Princeton’s already enormously popular introductory computer science classes soon will be available on the new online learning platform Coursera. The first, on algorithms, created by Robert Sedgewick and jointly developed over the past decade by Sedgewick and his colleague Kevin Wayne, will be online late in the summer.

Sedgewick tells EQN that while it will be fabulous to have videos of his lectures online as part of Coursera, the courses already have a huge reach thanks to innovative course-related websites that Wayne and he have been developing for years.

More than half of all Princeton University undergraduates, regardless of major, take one of Sedgewick and Wayne’s computer science courses. Moreover their Princeton course websites already have a global reach: in 2011, they had 1.5 million unique visitors from across the world.

The algorithms course is based on a series of books by Sedgewick that have been bestsellers for decades (the most recent edition coauthored with Kevin Wayne). A second  Sedgewick course, “Analytic Combinatorics,” based on the seminal textbook on the subject written by Philippe Flajolet and Sedgewick, will be offered in Spring 2013.

Sedgewick’s Algorithms textbooks have had wide influence on the teaching of computer science since the first edition was published in 1983. They are characterized by elegant implementations in real programming languages and demonstrate at the same time a wide range of real-world applications in graphics, animation and different scientific disciplines.

While non-Princeton students will benefit from free online access to these world-class computer science courses, Princeton students also will profit from the Coursera relationship, Sedgewick says.

“This will lead to more and better web content, improving what Princeton students already use,” he said. “It will provide extensive and powerful tools for their preceptors, who will then have more time for personal interaction with students.”

This fall Coursera also will be featuring a course on computer architecture by electrical engineering assistant professor David Wentzlaff.

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