Second, I registered for the Machine Learning course (I am not sure if the same applies to the AI course) and I compared it with the actual ML course at Stanford (CS229) (I mainly looked at Youtube videos of Andrew as well as Assignments/Midterm). The latter is by far more advanced and theoretical. The assignments tend to test more than basic comprehension of the material presented in the lectures, which is exactly what the online course reviews tend to evaluate. They require strong mathematical knowledge and obviously a minimum level of creativity/intelligence.
I don't. That part of the post was written with tongue firmly attached to cheek. If that tone didn't come through, that means I have to improve my writing.
The online ML course is CS 229A (which is also an actual course at Stanford. The online version is close to the Stanford course).
The "tough" version is CS 229 (no 'A' at the end). I registered for the ML course thinking it was an online version of CS 229 and dropped out when it was confirmed to be 229A. In my politically incorrect opinion, 229A is close to worthless. The math is important in real world ML. This course included gems such as "if you don't know what a derivative is, that is fine".
The online AI course is almost exactly the same course as Stanford (CS 221), minus, of course, the programming assignments. It is an introductory, broad based course, and it does the job well (imo)
The online DB course is almost (if not exactly) the same as Stanford CS 145. I think this was the best course of the three.
All courses track the corresponding Stanford courses.
It also included other gems like debugging models with learning curves, stochastic gradient descent, artificial data and ceiling analysis. I have not come across practical things like these in more mathematically oriented ML books that I have tried reading in the past.
Interestingly, your arrogance is in sharp contrast with the humility of the professor, where he admits in places that he went around using tools for a long time(like SVM) without fully understanding the mathematical details.
I'd hardly call it worthless myself. It lacks a deeper analysis of all the methods that are used, but using them can sometimes be a greater challenge.
I did the AI course and the ML course and find it a great way of getting a little overview of the subjects, so when I study on my own, I have a little direction.
A bit of me died when I heard prof. Ng say that. However, I had committed to finishing ml-class and I did. As of now, I'm glad I went through with it. I felt like I was learning all these cool AI techniques that I hadn't heard about. However, the proof is in the pudding. The question is will I be able to take a real world problem and apply what I learned in that class to come up with something interesting? If I can't you are probably right. My perfect record would only be worth the paper it's printed on and the money I paid for the course!
I'm not pointing fingers at Prof. Ng. or anyone here. It was an experiment for Stanford and an experiment for me. I know I am looking forward to the courses next year :).