5 Free online courses offered by Princeton University

Studying in Ivy League colleges like Princeton is a dream that most students share. For those students who haven’t been able to materialize this dream, the following open online courses will give them a chance to study from the world-class Princeton faculty. Right from altruism to computer architecture to analyzing algorithms and cryptocurrency technologies, these courses offer something for everyone.

Effective Altruism

This online course provided by Princeton can be pursued by anyone who wishes to apply effective altruism to lead a fully ethical life. Over approximately 15 hours, students will be familiarized with meta-ethics and normative ethical theories, the effectiveness of aid programs, comparing different charities, and getting the most value of your charitable dollars. The course will also educate students about how poverty is a violation of human rights and the obligations that the affluent have towards those in poverty. Career choices are also discussed towards the end of the course.

Making Government Work in Hard Places

This course is a very practical course that uses several real-life case studies of reform leaders, traces their actions, and deeply analyzes their application to current contexts. On completion of this 8-week course, students will be able to identify what holds the government back and will have a solution toolkit to tackle some difficult yet common problems. Some topics covered include facilitating coordination at the cabinet level, ensuring timely delivery of funds to citizen services, and overcoming capacity traps. The course will also introduce students to some basic managerial skills like project management, streamlining processes, and developing strategies.

Computer Architecture

Computer Architecture is an advanced level course that aims to teach students how to design the computer architecture of complex modern microprocessors. The course can be completed by students at their own pace over 24 hours. While there is a wide range of topics that will be covered in the course, some of them discuss the different machine models and ISA characteristics, the basic concept of pipelines and hazards, basic superscalar architecture and their issues and also covers the basic concept of VLIW processors.

Analysis of Algorithms

This course facilitates precise quantitative predictions of large combinatorial structures by teaching calculus. This is an advanced level course that can be completed in 22 hours. The course takes students right from the history and motivation behind the scientific study of algorithmic performance to familiarizing them with types of recurrences and solving them, mergesort, Catalan numbers, and exponential generating numbers.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies

With so many facts and claims floating around the internet about Bitcoin, this course aims at familiarizing students with the concept of Bitcoin so well that by the end they will be able to identify those which are true. Over a 22-hour duration, the course gives students a clear description of crypto and cryptocurrencies, the mechanism behind Bitcoin, its uses and decentralization. Some topics covered include cryptographic hash functions, hash pointers and data structures, digital signatures, incentives and proof of work along with Bitcoin blocks, script and network.

All these courses are delivered in English and some of them have transcripts or subtitles in another language. Each of the courses can be accessed for free but there will be no certification provided on completion.

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