Do I Need Python Skills For a Beginner Machine Learning Course?

Hello @David_Wilkinson,

Yes, we need to know Python enough to kind of understand what’s going on in the code, because with that, we can continue to actually understand by further googling and exercising on our own.

I am sorry to hear that you didn’t know about the importance of Python in the assignment, but since programming is essential to do Machine Learning on our own to hopefully handle challenges of unknown type, it is never too late to get started!

As far as I know, we don’t have a concrete list of skills that guarantees us through the course, however, learning the fundamentals should be the minimum. Here is some information to begin with.

You might first spend 0-4 hours to set up your own coding environment (point A. 3 in the above linked post), then go through your selected courses or text tutorials (point A. 1 & 2) while practicing them on your own coding environment. Challenge yourself with some tests (point A. 4) if you would like to, however, just don’t be discouraged if the tests are too difficult at the beginning.

If it is your first time learning Python, then it is just like learning a new language. When learning a new language, we probably are only able to recognize the symbols, or speak some simple greeting words, or recognize some names of our favourite food, because those are the minimum to survive in a new place that speaks the language we are learning. In other words, after you completed the courses or text tutorials, you would have made the necessary first move, and the rest depends on experiencing and practicing. In a real world spoken language, you speak with the natives. In learning python programming as a self-learner, you type, try to solve some test problems, and google for discussions on unclear parts.

If you chose to do the text tutorials, that hopefully won’t take you more than 2 days (although the actual time will depend on your style and schedule too). Then you might choose to go through some tests, but just don’t get lost in it - remember our goal is the machine learning specialization.

Then, open an optional lab which does not require you to do any programming, read the code, see how well you can understand them by reading. When something unclear comes up, google them and play with them. By playing with them, I mean try to twist some parameters and see what’s going to happen. It’s just like when we were kids exploring the world, we broke things. :grin: That’s the bill to pay. The difference is that, in programming world, it is reversible, so we can twist/break it as many times as we want.

At any time, if you want to get a fresh new copy of a lab, do as the FAQ B.5 says.

Then, open an assignment. Much of the code was provided to you, as for the exercises itself, it will be like the tests. It gives you instructions, and you follow them. When needed, there will also be hints hidden beneath each of the exercise. You only need to click the button underneath to show the hints.

My last two pieces of suggestion is just to reiterate what I have said at the beginning. As a self-learner, we need to be aware of and familiar with googling online discussions and resources to improve ourselves. It is an advantage we can make use of to grow quicker that we can initially anticipate. The other one would be to practice!

Good luck @David_Wilkinson, and welcome to this community. Cheers.

Raymond