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Core Concepts in Data Analysis

Higher School of Economics @Coursera
Class Start: TBA
Duration: 8 weeks
Certificate: Yes
Level: intermediate
Rate this class Go to the class
Learn both theory and application for basic methods that have been invented either for developing new concepts – principal components or clusters, or for finding interesting correlations – regression and classification. This is preceded by a thorough analysis of 1D and 2D data.

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Bart , 2014-05-14
I'm dropping this course after 5 weeks.
There are good bits about this course, but you can probably read about those in other reviews. I'll focus on the bad bits.

First of all, it does not make sense to follow this kind of quality course after the high quality courses "Data Analysis and Statistical Inference" on coursera and MIT's "Introduction to Probability" on Edx which cover similar topics, but in much greater depth and with much more rigour.

I'm sure Boris Mirkin is very knowledgeable, but i.m.h.o. he lacks the educational skills. Sometimes the language he uses gets in the way. At other times he explains bits left and right without a clear route of understanding things with increasing complexity. There are times he does not explain why certain concepts exist or how they are used.

The slides often contain too much text, numbers and formula's to be clear and informative.

I found I had a better understanding when I skipped his lectures and went straight to wikipedia or some other resource. Because of that, it irritated me that he used terms and definitions in a unique ways, so that I couldn't use wikipedia or online searches to study. If I look up Quetelet Index, all I get are references to BMI (Body Mass Index), but Boris uses that term for a general statistic. Another example is the use of "odds-ratio" that differs from its official definition.

The programming assignments are quite easy. You can use any language or tool you like. You download a dataset and upload the answer within 5 minutes. When the answer is incorrect, you can download a new dataset and repeat until correct. The environment works. It's a bit specific about white space and punctuation. I do like the idea, but I would prefer to download from within the program using some API as some other programming courses offer.

The quizzes are so so. You are asked to show you've understood the definitions and to calculate certain statistics.

When doing the peer assessments, make sure to read the grading criteria, because the question does not always comply with them.

I did the first run so there is room for improvement. Still I believe there are better ways to learn about the topics that are covered by this course.

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