Discrete Mathematics is the language of Computer Science. One needs to be fluent in it to work in many fields including data science, machine learning, and software engineering (it is not a coincidence that math puzzles are often used for interviews). We introduce you to this language through a fun try-this-before-we-explain-everything approach: first you solve many interactive puzzles that are carefully designed specifically for this online specialization, and then we explain how to solve the puzzles, and introduce important ideas along the way. We believe that this way, you will get a deeper understanding and will better appreciate the beauty of the underlying ideas (not to mention the self confidence that you gain if you invent these ideas on your own!). To bring your experience closer to IT-applications, we incorporate programming examples, problems, and projects in the specialization.
We’ll implement together an efficient program for a problem needed by delivery companies all over the world millions times per day — the travelling salesman problem. The goal in this problem is to visit all the given places as quickly as possible. How to find an optimal solution to this problem quickly? We still don’t have provably efficient algorithms for this difficult computational problem and this is the essence of the P versus NP problem, the most important open question in Computer Science. Still, we’ll implement several efficient solutions for real world instances of the travelling salesman problem. While designing these solutions, we will rely heavily on the material learned in the courses of the specialization: proof techniques, combinatorics, probability, graph theory. We’ll see several examples of using discrete mathematics ideas to get more and more efficient solutions.