If you have a degree in Computer Science, you probably already know about algorithms.
But if you don’t have a degree and you’re learning to code, then you may be interested in learning algorithms to help strengthen your programming knowledge.
For those of you who are eager to learn algorithms, this article will guide you through the best online resources to learn algorithms for free in 2023.
Algorithms, in simple terms, are step-by-step procedures or sets of instructions that computers follow to solve specific tasks.
Behind the scenes, algorithms are doing things like making our favourite websites load lightning-fast, enabling intelligent recommendations on streaming platforms, and even powering complex artificial intelligence systems (like Chat GPT).
Algorithms are the key formulas that transform raw data into meaningful outcomes, driving the way we interact with technology.
The importance of algorithms cannot be overstated when it comes to programming. They are the building blocks upon which efficient software is constructed, providing the key to tackling real-world challenges effectively.
By using algorithms, developers can optimise the performance of their applications, reduce resource usage, and create many types of innovations.
Algorithms are not limited to just lines of code. They incorporate a mindset known as algorithmic thinking.
This approach to problem-solving involves breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. It encourages us to analyse problems from multiple angles, devise creative solutions, and consider the efficiency and scalability of our approaches.
Algorithmic thinking is a powerful cognitive tool that goes beyond programming languages and platforms, empowering individuals and developers to tackle challenges across various domains.
To learn more, and get a better understanding of algorithms without a computer science degree, here are six websites where you can learn algorithms for free in 2023:
#1 - GeeksforGeeks
GeeksforGeeks offers a beginner-friendly Learn Data Structures and Algorithms course that delves into the foundational aspects of data structures and algorithms (DSA).
The course breaks down the learning process into four key steps: understanding time and space complexities, grasping the basics of different data structures, familiarising with the fundamentals of algorithms, and practising problems related to DSA.
This modular approach ensures a sequential and linear learning experience. The course offers strategies, resources, and detailed explanations for thoroughly understanding the concepts of DSA from scratch.
#2 - Khan Academy
The Algorithms course by Khan Academy, developed in partnership with Dartmouth College professors Tom Cormen and Devin Balkcom, provides a comprehensive introduction to computer science algorithms. The course covers key topics such as searching, sorting, recursion, and graph theory through a blend of articles, visualisations, quizzes, and coding challenges.
It begins with an overview of algorithms and their importance, then delves into specific more specific algorithms. The course also introduces the concept of recursion with practical examples and explores graph representation and traversal techniques like breadth-first search.
The flexible structure and interactive content make this course an excellent resource for beginners.
#3 - freeCodeCamp
FreeCodeCamp’s 6-hour course on YouTube, taught by Pasan Premaratne and Jay McGavren, provides an in-depth introduction to algorithms and data structures. The course, now freely available, is a blend of three shorter courses: Introduction to Algorithms, Introduction to Data Structures, and Algorithms: Sorting and Searching.
It starts by explaining the concept and applications of algorithms, followed by an introduction to arrays and linked lists. The course then applies this knowledge to the problem of sorting data, specifically through the Merge Sort algorithm.
By the end of the course, learners will have a solid understanding of algorithms and data structures, including how to measure, evaluate, and apply them to problem-solving.
#4 - Coursera
Coursera offers an intensive course on algorithms and data structures, tailored for committed programmers and emphasises practical applications and performance analysis in Java.
This course is divided into two parts, the first part introduces fundamental data structures, sorting, and searching algorithms, while the second part delves deeper into algorithms related to graph and string processing.
The entire course, rich in content and features, is available for free, although it does not provide a certificate upon completion.
#5 - Programiz
Programiz's Learn Data Structures & Algorithms course provides extensive tutorials on a variety of data structures and algorithms, with implementations demonstrated in Python, C, C++, and Java.
The course covers introductory topics, various types of data structures including queues, stacks, linked lists, and hash tables, as well as tree and graph-based data structures. It delves into sorting and searching algorithms, greedy algorithms, dynamic programming, and other algorithmic strategies.
Each tutorial is accompanied by relevant examples, making the course suitable for beginners who are keen on exploring computer programming.
The "A Beginner’s Guide to Algorithmic Thinking" article on Learn to Code With Me focuses on developing an understanding of algorithmic thinking, the crucial skill we touched upon earlier for efficient and successful software development.
It covers topics like understanding what an algorithm is, two different approaches to problem-solving (breaking a problem down and building a solution up), ways to improve and practice this skill, and an introduction to optimisation and Big O notation.
The guide emphasises the importance of not just learning individual algorithms, but also fostering a mindset that can understand and apply algorithmic logic, making the creation of new algorithms more intuitive.
The article's insights are provided by Ethan Urie of Learn to Be a Developer.
If you’d like to go deeper into your learning, you may wish to have a look at some great books on Algorithms:
- Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. Cormen and Charles E. Leiserson
- Algorithms by Robert Sedgewick and Kevin Wayne
- Grokking Algorithms by Aditya Bhargava
- The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth
In conclusion, as stated before, you don’t need to have a computer science degree to learn about Algorithms.
There are many online resources and books available that can give you an understanding of algorithms and thinking algorithmically, where you can learn to write code that solves complex problems efficiently and effectively.
The journey of learning algorithms often starts with understanding basic concepts and gradually moves towards more complex data structures and problem-solving strategies. And with a little bit of time and effort, you'll find that your ability to think logically and solve problems algorithmically will significantly improve, making you a more competent programmer.
Keep sorting through life, one algorithm at a time!
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