Home Science Computer Science Computer Science
Intro to Computer Science

Intro to Computer Science

Learn key computer science concepts in this introductory Python course. You'll learn by doing, and will build your own search engine and social network.
Video Beginner Advanced


In this introduction to computer programming course, you’ll learn and practice key computer science concepts by building your own versions of popular web applications. You’ll learn Python, a powerful, easy-to-learn, and widely used programming language, and you’ll explore computer science basics, as you build your own search engine and social network.

Expected Learning

You’ll learn the programming language Python, and you’ll explore foundational concepts in computer science. Most importantly, you’ll start thinking like a software engineer by solving interesting problems (how to build a web crawler or a social network) using computer programming.

This course is a first step into the world of computer science, and whether you want to become a software engineer, or collaborate with software engineers, this course is for you. You’ll be prepared for intermediate-level computer science classes when you’ve mastered the concepts covered in this course.

Build a Search Engine

Throughout this course, you’ll build a search engine by learning about and producing key search engine components including a crawler, an index and a page rank algorithm. As you build these pieces, you’ll be learning about and practicing computer science skills that will ready you for intermediate level computer science courses.

Build a Social Network

At the end of the course we will give you a set of relationships (i.e. strings of phrases like "Dave likes Andy, Kathleen and Kristy") and you will use your new computer science skills to organize these relationships into a social network. With your new social network, you can explore relationships and gain insight into how you fit into your own social networks.


Lesson 1: How to Get Started

  • Interview with Sergey Brin
  • Getting Started with Python
  • Processors
  • Grace Hopper
  • Variables
  • Strings and Numbers
  • Indexing Strings
  • String Theory

Lesson 2: How to Repeat

  • Introducing Procedures
  • Sum Procedure with a Return Statement
  • Equality Comparisons
  • If Statements
  • Or Function
  • Biggest Procedure
  • While Loops
  • Print Numbers

Lesson 2.5: How to Solve Problems

  • What are the Inputs
  • Algorithm Pseudocode
  • Optimizing

Lesson 3: How to Manage Data

  • Nested Lists
  • A List of Strings
  • Aliasing
  • List Operations
  • List Addition and Length
  • How Computers Store Data
  • For Loops
  • Popping Elements
  • Crawl Web

Lesson 4: Responding to Queries

  • Data Structures
  • Lookup
  • Building the Web Index
  • Latency
  • Bandwidth
  • Buckets of Bits
  • Protocols

Lesson 5: How Programs Run

  • Measuring Speed
  • Spin Loop
  • Index Size vs. Time
  • Making Lookup Faster
  • Hash Function
  • Testing Hash Functions
  • Implementing Hash Tables
  • Dictionaries
  • Modifying the Search Engine

Lesson 6: How to Have Infinite Power

  • Infinite Power
  • Counter
  • Recursive Definitions
  • Recursive Procedures
  • Palindromes
  • Recursive v. Iterative
  • Divide and Be Conquered
  • Ranking Web Pages

Lesson 7: Past, Present, and the Future of Computing

  • Past of Computing
  • Computer History Museum
  • First Hard Drive
  • Search Before Computers
  • Present of Computing
  • Slac and Big Data
  • Open Source
  • Future of Computing
  • Text Analysis
  • Energy Aware Computing
  • Computer Security
  • Quantum Computing

Required Knowledge

There is no prior computer programming knowledge needed for this course. Beginners are welcome!

12 weeks
Dave Evans
Submitted by:
Would you recomment this course to a friend?
There are no comments yet. Please sign in to start the discussion.