How to Win at Texas Hold ‘Em: A Free MIT Course

In 2015, we featured a short MIT course called Poker Theory and Analytics, which introduced students to poker strategy, psychology, and decision-making in eleven lectures. Now comes a new course, this one more squarely focused on Texas Hold 'Em. Taught by MIT grad student Will Ma, the course "covers the poker concepts, math concepts, and general concepts needed to play the game of Texas Hold'em on a professional level." Here's a quick overview of the topics the course delves into in the 7 lectures above (or find them here on YouTube).

  • Poker Concepts: preflop ranges, 3-betting, continuation betting, check-raising, floating, bet sizing, implied odds, polarization, ICM theory, data mining in poker
  • Math Concepts: probability and expectation, variance and the Law of Large Numbers, Nash Equilibrium
  • General Concepts: decisions vs. results, exploitative play vs. balanced play, risk management

You can find the syllabus, lecture slides and assignments on this MIT website.  How to Win at Texas Hold 'Em will be added to our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Free: You Can Now Read Classic Books by MIT Press on Archive.org

FYI. At the end of May, Archive.org announced this on its blog:

For more than eighty years, MIT Press has been publishing acclaimed titles in science, technology, art and architecture.  Now, thanks to a new partnership between the Internet Archive and MIT Press, readers will be able to borrow these classics online for the first time. With generous support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, this partnership represents an important advance in providing free, long-term public access to knowledge.

“These books represent some of the finest scholarship ever produced, but right now they are very hard to find,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “Together with MIT Press, we will enable the patrons of every library that owns one of these books to borrow it online–one copy at a time.”

This joint initiative is a crucial early step in Internet Archive’s ambitious plans to digitize, preserve and provide public access to four million books, by partnering widely with university presses and other publishers, authors, and libraries....

We will be scanning an initial group of 1,500 MIT Press titles at Internet Archive’s Boston Public Library facility, including Cyril Stanley Smith’s 1980 book, From Art to Science: Seventy-Two Objects Illustrating the Nature of Discovery, and Frederick Law Olmsted and Theodora Kimball’s Forty Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park, which was published in 1973. The oldest title in the group is Arthur C. Hardy’s 1936 Handbook of Colorimetry.

Throughout the summer, we've been checking in, waiting for the first MIT Press books to hit Archive.org's virtual shelves. They're now starting to arrive. Click here to find the beginnings of what promises to be a much larger collection.




As Brewster Kahle (founder of Internet Archive) explained it to Library Journalhis organization is “basically trying to wave a wand over everyone’s physical collections and say, Blink! You now have an electronic version that you can use” in whatever way desired, assuming its permitted by copyright. In the case of MIT Press, it looks like you can log into Archive.org and digitally borrow their electronic texts for 14 days.

Archive.org hopes to digitize 1,500 MIT Press classics by the end of 2017. Digital collections from other publishing houses seem sure to follow.

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Introduction to Python, Data Science & Computational Thinking: Free Online Courses from MIT

FYI: MIT has posted online the video lectures for an essential series of courses. In the playlist of 38 lectures above, you can get an Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python. Recorded this past fall, and taught by Prof. Eric Grimson, Prof. John Guttag, and Dr. Ana Bell, the course is "intended for students with little or no programming experience. It aims to provide students with an understanding of the role computation can play in solving problems and to help students, regardless of their major, feel justifiably confident of their ability to write small programs that allow them to accomplish useful goals. The class uses the Python 3.5 programming language." Find accompanying course materials, including syllabus, here.

The follow up course, Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science, is again intended for students with little or no programming experience. "It aims to provide students with an understanding of the role computation can play in solving problems and to help students, regardless of their major, feel justifiably confident of their ability to write small programs that allow them to accomplish useful goals. The class uses the Python 3.5 programming language." Find related course materials here, and the 15 lectures on this playlist.

Both courses will be added to our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Artificial Intelligence: A Free Online Course from MIT

Today we're adding MIT's course on Artificial Intelligence to our ever-growing collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. That's because, to paraphrase Amazon's Jeff Bezos, artificial intelligence (AI) is "not just in the first inning of a long baseball game, but at the stage where the very first batter comes up." Look around, and you will find AI everywhere--in self driving cars, Siri on your phone, online customer support, movie recommendations on Netflix, fraud detection for your credit cards, etc. To be sure, there's more to come.

Featuring 30 lectures, MIT's course "introduces students to the basic knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning methods of artificial intelligence." It includes interactive demonstrations designed to "help students gain intuition about how artificial intelligence methods work under a variety of circumstances." And, by the end of the course, students should be able "to develop intelligent systems by assembling solutions to concrete computational problems; understand the role of knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning in intelligent-system engineering; and appreciate the role of problem solving, vision, and language in understanding human intelligence from a computational perspective."

Taught by Prof. Patrick Henry Winston, the lectures can all be viewed above. Or watch them on YouTube and iTunes. Related course materials (including a syllabus) can be found on this MIT website. The textbook, available on Amazon, was written by Professor Winston.

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Hear VALIS, an Opera Based on Philip K. Dick’s Metaphysical Novel

PKD

Image by Pete Wesch, via Wikimedia Commons

Philip K. Dick died in 1982. His distinctive, some say visionary brand of psychological sci-fi literature, however, has lived on, proving its endurance in part by taking new forms. Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's hugely influential adaptation of Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, premiered just three months after the author's departure. More films followed over the years, including Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (an adaptation of "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"), Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, and many others.

Dick's work has also provided the basis for radio dramas, television shows (most recently Netflix's The Man in the High Castle, with an ambitious anthology series coming to Channel 4 this spring), and stage productions. Typically, these adaptations use the stories and novels in which Dick wrote the setting, plot, and characters with relative straightforwardness. Other, later works found him plunging as deep into philosophy and autobiography as into science fiction. The change happened around the time he saw a mysterious pink light and met God in 1974, or claimed to, and it produced a final set of novels known as the VALIS trilogy.

The fractured tale of an authorial alter-ego named Horselover Fat, VALIS (short for "Vast Active Living Intelligence System"), the first book in the trilogy, involves an alien space probe, Watergate, the Messiah, lasers, and a range of references to religions like Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and the Red Cross Brotherhood; philosophy from the ancient Greeks to Plato, Pascal, and Schopenhauer; and cultural figures like Handel, Wagner, Goethe, and Frank Zappa. It would take an ambitious mind indeed to adapt such a thing: specifically, it took the mind of Tod Machover, composer and director of MIT's Media Lab, who turned it into an opera in 1987.

"We live in a world that is becoming in fact more and more fragmented, more and more complex," says Machover on the relevance of VALIS at an interview at the Philip K. Dick Fan Site. "You don’t have to have a pink light experience to realize that there is too much information to not only be aware of but to make any kind of sense out of." He describes this "incredible feeling of the world being not only too complex for any one person to make sense out of but also dangerously complex, to the point where people will not only not understand each other but end up hating each other and being absolutely crushed under the burden of just trying to make sense with how much there is to know."

In his VALIS opera, which premiered at Paris' Centre Georges Pompidou with installations created by video artist Catherine Ikam, Machover tried to get that feeling artistically across, and you can hear it free on Spotify. (If you don't have Spotify's software, you can download it here. There's a Youtube version right above.) Back then in the 80s, he says, it "seemed like through our media and communications there’d be a kind of facile way of connecting people, a sort of passivity and turning on your cable TV and seeing what’s going on today in Tokyo or in Europe and you sort of feel like you can take all this stuff in. But in fact I think what we’re seeing now is exactly what Dick predicted, which is that it ain’t that easy." And it sure hasn't got any easier.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Free M.I.T. Course Teaches You How to Become Bill Nye & Make Great Science Videos for YouTube

If I had my way, more academics would care about teaching beyond the walls of the academy. They'd teach to a broader public and consider ways to make their material more engaging, if not inspiring, to new audiences. You can find examples out there of teachers who are doing it right. The heirs of Carl Sagan--Brian Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye--know how to light a spark and make their material come alive on TV and YouTube. How they do this is not exactly a mystery, not after M.I.T. posted online a course called "Becoming the Next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show."

Taught at M.I.T. over a month-long period, Becoming the Next Bill Nye was designed to teach students video production techniques that would help them "to engagingly convey [their] passions for science, technology, engineering, and/or math." By the end of the course, they'd know how to script and host a 5-minute YouTube show.

You can now find the syllabus and all materials for that course online at MIT's OpenCourseWare site. This includes all video lectures and class assignments. Or, if you prefer, you can get the video lectures straight from this YouTube playlist.

Becoming the Next Bill Nye will be added to our meta collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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MIT’s Introduction to Poker Theory: A Free Online Course

If you google my name, spelled in the unconventional way that I spell it, the first search results won't having anything to do with me. They'll reference another Dan Colman who, in the past year, has made a good chunk of change playing poker -- including winning $15.3 million in one tournament alone. He apparently did it all without availing himself of MIT's course -- Poker Theory and Analytics -- taught by Kevin Desmond, a graduate student in MIT's Sloan School of Management. Desmond has competed at the top levels of the poker world and worked as a Morgan Stanley analyst, and he contends that being successful in both realms requires "balancing expected returns against associated risks and," ... and "the key to success is self-discipline."

According to MIT NewsPoker Theory and Analytics introduced students to poker strategy, psychology, and decision-making in eleven lectures." Along with giving students the chance to play endless rounds of poker, the class featured guest speakers -- "Bill Chen, a professional player best known for his appearances on the Game Show Network’s High Stakes Poker television show, Matt Hawrilenko, a Princeton graduate who won more than $1 million at the World Series of Poker in 2009, and Aaron Brown, chief risk manager at AQR Capital Management." And it culminated with a live tournament.

You can access all of the lectures for the Poker Theory and Analytics course on YouTube, iTunes or Archive.org. (You can watch the complete playlist of lectures above.) And if you click here, you can get the syllabuslectures notes, assignments, poker software, and more.

Poker Theory and Analytics  will be added to our ever-growing collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities, in both the Business and Economics sections.

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