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Just started Udacity's "Introduction to Parallel Programming". The first Unit is online. It explains the barebones of how to launch a simple CUDA kernel for computing squares and cubes, as well as the CUDA parallel computation model. I ended Coursera's "Heterogeneous Parallel Programming" a couple of weeks ago, and so the impressions I get from this first class (compared to HPP) are the following:

1) First unit is really the barebones of CUDA (and explains a bit of the necessary C). The videos are short and concise, many quizzes take you gently to the knowledge (Udacity's style...).

2) The instructor and the layout of the slides and of the explanations in Udacity are much better than the approach followed in Coursera's HPP (Prof. Hwu waving in front of slides, without ever seeing a pen writing or underlining important info in the slides).

3) The code submission process seems to be much more effective in Udacity (I don't know about the number of users when I submitted, neither the number of available devices - GPUs). It looks exactly like the Python submission infrastructure we are used to in Udacity. The response time perceived by the user is similar.

Overall I just say that now I'm hooked to finish Udacity's "Introduction to Parallel Programming" even after finishing Coursera's HPP. From the pedagogical POV, Udacity's offer seems much better (at least in the 1st unit) than Coursera's. Also we will do a lot of image processing in the quizzes and exercises. Nice.

My take: go and see if you like. In fact, parallel processing and programming is here to go along with us (forever ?)...

asked 05 Feb '13, 11:22

Jose's gravatar image


My impression is similar to yours. A couple of other points. The Udacity web interface isn't really set up for debugging (cant get print output etc),... but quite frankly that isn't much different than the python based courses. This suggests one should really set up their own CUDA Toolkit install etc --- but that requirement (or guidance) hasnt really been specified. The step between the presentation material and the initial problem set is a bit of a jump --- so I suspect those with a real beginner background will struggle. Oh yeah, the interactive cartooning in some of the lectures is quite a refreshing departure from the talking head syndrome in many courses. Looking forward to seeing how this course progresses (assuming the "Real world" doesn't get in the way).
(05 Feb '13, 18:46) egoots egoots's gravatar image
@egoots I agree with you. There is a jump from "class" to problem 1. There is only 1 quiz in Unit 1 where we submit a kernel (and almost all code is already cooked) and then problem 1. I just submitted a very raw kernel (no image boundaries checking) but it passed! Perhaps I'm in the first 5000 to submit P1, so I can get Amazon cloud credits :-)
(05 Feb '13, 19:28) Jose Jose's gravatar image


answered 05 Feb '13, 11:42

Retro666's gravatar image


Thanks for that link. I had not seen the NVIDIA contests before. That should add a bit of spice to the course ;-)
(05 Feb '13, 14:11) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
Thanks @Retro666. After seeing your post I went immediately to Udacity and submitted my P1 :-)
(05 Feb '13, 19:37) Jose Jose's gravatar image
Yes .. the prizes are great ... if you live in the accepted countries. For more details:
(07 Feb '13, 09:22) smiron ♦ smiron's gravatar image
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