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10 Machine Learning Online Courses For Beginners


The following is a list of, mostly free, machine learning online courses for beginners. First, and arguably the most popular course on this list, Machine Learning provides a broad introduction to machine learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition. The course will also draw from numerous case studies and applications, so that you'll also learn how to apply learning algorithms to building smart robots (perception, control), text understanding (web search, anti-spam), computer vision, medical informatics, audio, database mining, and other areas. The course is 11 weeks long and averages a 4.9/5 user rating, currently. It is free to take, but you can pay $79 for a certificate upon course completion.

A Stackelberg Game Approach for Incentivizing Participation in Online Educational Forums with Heterogeneous Student Population

AAAI Conferences

Increased interest in web-based education has spurred the proliferation of online learning environments. However, these platforms suffer from high dropout rates due to lack of sustained motivation among the students taking the course. In an effort to address this problem, we propose an incentive-based, instructor-driven approach to orchestrate the interactions in online educational forums (OEFs). Our approach takes into account the heterogeneity in skills among the students as well as the limited budget available to the instructor. We first analytically model OEFs in a non-strategic setting using ideas from lumpable continuous time Markov chains and compute expected aggregate transient net-rewards for the instructor and the students. We next consider a strategic setting where we use the rewards computed above to set up a mixed-integer linear program which views an OEF as a single-leader-multiple-followers Stackelberg game and recommends an optimal plan to the instructor for maximizing student participation. Our experimental results reveal several interesting phenomena including a striking non-monotonicity in the level of participation of students vis-a-vis the instructor's arrival rate.

Learning Latent Engagement Patterns of Students in Online Courses

AAAI Conferences

Maintaining and cultivating student engagement is critical for learning. Understanding factors affecting student engagement will help in designing better courses and improving student retention. The large number of participants in massive open online courses (MOOCs) and data collected from their interaction with the MOOC open up avenues for studying student engagement at scale. In this work, we develop a framework for modeling and understanding student engagement in online courses based on student behavioral cues. Our first contribution is the abstraction of student engagement types using latent representations and using that in a probabilistic model to connect student behavior with course completion. We demonstrate that the latent formulation for engagement helps in predicting student survival across three MOOCs. Next, in order to initiate better instructor interventions, we need to be able to predict student survival early in the course. We demonstrate that we can predict student survival early in the course reliably using the latent model. Finally, we perform a closer quantitative analysis of user interaction with the MOOC and identify student activities that are good indicators for survival at different points in the course.

Online learning in MDPs with side information Machine Learning

We study online learning of finite Markov decision process (MDP) problems when a side information vector is available. The problem is motivated by applications such as clinical trials, recommendation systems, etc. Such applications have an episodic structure, where each episode corresponds to a patient/customer. Our objective is to compete with the optimal dynamic policy that can take side information into account. We propose a computationally efficient algorithm and show that its regret is at most $O(\sqrt{T})$, where $T$ is the number of rounds. To best of our knowledge, this is the first regret bound for this setting.

Online learning in episodic Markovian decision processes by relative entropy policy search

Neural Information Processing Systems

We study the problem of online learning in finite episodic Markov decision processes (MDPs)where the loss function is allowed to change between episodes. The natural performance measure in this learning problem is the regret defined as the difference between the total loss of the best stationary policy and the total loss suffered by the learner. We assume that the learner is given access to a finite action space A and the state space X has a layered structure with L layers, so that state transitions are only possible between consecutive layers. We describe a variant of the recently proposed Relative Entropy Policy Search algorithm and show that its regret after T episodes is 2 L X A T log( X A /L) in the bandit setting and 2L T log( X A /L) in the full information setting, given that the learner has perfect knowledge of the transition probabilities of the underlying MDP. These guarantees largely improve previously known results under much milder assumptions andcannot be significantly improved under general assumptions.

Online Learning in Markov Decision Processes with Adversarially Chosen Transition Probability Distributions

Neural Information Processing Systems

We study the problem of online learning Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) when both the transition distributions and loss functions are chosen by an adversary. We present an algorithm that, under a mixing assumption, achieves $O(\sqrt{T\log|\Pi|}+\log|\Pi|)$ regret with respect to a comparison set of policies $\Pi$. The regret is independent of the size of the state and action spaces. When expectations over sample paths can be computed efficiently and the comparison set $\Pi$ has polynomial size, this algorithm is efficient. We also consider the episodic adversarial online shortest path problem. Here, in each episode an adversary may choose a weighted directed acyclic graph with an identified start and finish node. The goal of the learning algorithm is to choose a path that minimizes the loss while traversing from the start to finish node. At the end of each episode the loss function (given by weights on the edges) is revealed to the learning algorithm. The goal is to minimize regret with respect to a fixed policy for selecting paths. This problem is a special case of the online MDP problem. For randomly chosen graphs and adversarial losses, this problem can be efficiently solved. We show that it also can be efficiently solved for adversarial graphs and randomly chosen losses. When both graphs and losses are adversarially chosen, we present an efficient algorithm whose regret scales linearly with the number of distinct graphs. Finally, we show that designing efficient algorithms for the adversarial online shortest path problem (and hence for the adversarial MDP problem) is as hard as learning parity with noise, a notoriously difficult problem that has been used to design efficient cryptographic schemes.

Time-varying Learning and Content Analytics via Sparse Factor Analysis Machine Learning

We propose SPARFA-Trace, a new machine learning-based framework for time-varying learning and content analytics for education applications. We develop a novel message passing-based, blind, approximate Kalman filter for sparse factor analysis (SPARFA), that jointly (i) traces learner concept knowledge over time, (ii) analyzes learner concept knowledge state transitions (induced by interacting with learning resources, such as textbook sections, lecture videos, etc, or the forgetting effect), and (iii) estimates the content organization and intrinsic difficulty of the assessment questions. These quantities are estimated solely from binary-valued (correct/incorrect) graded learner response data and a summary of the specific actions each learner performs (e.g., answering a question or studying a learning resource) at each time instance. Experimental results on two online course datasets demonstrate that SPARFA-Trace is capable of tracing each learner's concept knowledge evolution over time, as well as analyzing the quality and content organization of learning resources, the question-concept associations, and the question intrinsic difficulties. Moreover, we show that SPARFA-Trace achieves comparable or better performance in predicting unobserved learner responses than existing collaborative filtering and knowledge tracing approaches for personalized education.

Online Learning in Markov Decision Processes with Adversarially Chosen Transition Probability Distributions Machine Learning

We study the problem of learning Markov decision processes with finite state and action spaces when the transition probability distributions and loss functions are chosen adversarially and are allowed to change with time. We introduce an algorithm whose regret with respect to any policy in a comparison class grows as the square root of the number of rounds of the game, provided the transition probabilities satisfy a uniform mixing condition. Our approach is efficient as long as the comparison class is polynomial and we can compute expectations over sample paths for each policy. Designing an efficient algorithm with small regret for the general case remains an open problem.