This is my first class with Georgia Tech OMSCS program. I would prefer to take a different class as my first class (Machine Learning) so I have a better understanding of machine learning algorithms before trying to apply them, but as a newcomer you’re the last in a priority list. So, the other classes were completely full by the time I could make my selection.
It would help if you
are familiar with Python and at least some machine learning algorithms.
The second homework involves some math that requires you to use a chained derivative rule. However, the majority of the tasks are more practical.
Very intense. You’ll have to use multiple languages and tools to accomplish your homework. For this year (Spring 2019) this includes Python, a variation of SQL, Scala; Hadoop, Pig, Spark… This class is taking more of my time than what I wanted to spend on it with a family and a full-time job.
The automated code grader has bugs.
My first homework had some points taken off because of the tasks we were not even supposed to do. I contacted the teaching assistant (TA) and had a full credit restored.
The second homework had some points taken off, because they split the script into parts and ran each part separately, while my code was expecting that the whole script would run as a whole. The assignment did not mention anything about this. I again had the full credit restored after talking to teaching assistants and demonstrating that the issue was with this unstated requirement. The teaching assistant was very responsive.
For my third homework (Spark + Scala), I initially received 0 points, because I was trying out some plugins and modified the scala project file. Then I forgot to remove it, and my homework could not be run with the automated grader. This time the first TA never responded (I waited for about 4 days and followed up once), but the second TA replied right away. He manually reran my code and I only lost a few points due to the bad project file.
Skipping the fourth homework, because it hasn’t been graded yet.
The last, fifth homework (PyTorch + deep learning) requires a lot of time. You can take a part in Kaggle competition with other classmates as a part of this homework. I totally sucked at this one. I think I had some bugs in the data preprocessing stage, even though I passed the included unit tests.
A note about the homework submission process – if you miss a file or make a typo, you won’t know about it until you homework is officially graded. There is no immediate feedback on submission.
Docker – there are several ways you can run your homework assignments. If you don’t want to set up your home environment for each task. I used the provided docker image (there is also an option to use Azure virtual machine, but I did not use that option).
TEX editor – I used TeXstudio on Mac. You can use a regular Word and save to pdf for homework assignments which require a written answer. But, some of them require you to type formulas. And, although I found using TEX format extremely frustrating, at least the original homework assignment is provided both in tex and pdf formats. So you can start with that provided tex file and adjust fill out the answers.
Overleaf – something I discovered at the end of the class. This is a an online LaTex editor that allows you to collaborate with other students. As long as you sign up with your Georgia Tech email, it’s free.
There is no need to jam so many technologies in a single class. Sometimes, I felt like I was just going through different sections of the homework filling out the missing parts (they usually provide a method signature and you’re supposed to write the code), without actually understanding the bigger picture. Not a bad class, especially if you can dedicate enough time to it, but would not recommend it as your first class.