Image of a 4x4 square puzzle with different numbers in each square, one square empty, and spelling out the course number 6 (blank) 4 2 on the diagonal.,

6.042 serves as an introduction to discrete mathematics, probability, and mathematical thinking for computer scientists. (Image by OpenCourseWare, based on an image by Nick Matsakis.)

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

If you’re interested in computer programming, you might be familiar with OCW’s extensive resources in the discipline, ranging from our introductory classes to the graduate courses offered by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Sooner or later, students must face the reality that to do serious programming, design algorithms, or become a software engineer, they need to know some math.

What Kind of Math?

The kind presented in 6.042J Mathematics for Computer Science, whose Spring 2015 course has just been published on OCW. Taught by Professors Albert Meyer and Adam Chlipala, the course has an extensive array of content covering a wide variety of mathematical topics. 

Tutorials, Textbook, and Much More

Chief among these resources are 130 short tutorial videos created by Professor Meyer, who drew on more than a decade of teaching experience in the subject to create them. Ever an educational innovator, and one of the first instructors to flip his classroom at MIT, Professor Meyer put his Spring 2015 course content on Residential MITx, MIT’s version of the Open edX platform. MIT students watched the videos via the online platform before coming to class, where they worked in teams to solve problems.

Screengrabs of video player, with interactive text transcript below, and interactive questions, with horizontal navigation bar above.

A sequence of two OCW pages from 6.042J. Left: Tutorial video, with interactive text transcript. Right: A pair of interactive questions that come after the video.

Now on OCW, the video tutorials are presented in the same sequential fashion, interspersed with brief interactive questions that allow you to check your understanding, over four learning units.

The in-class questions are also included on the course site, in a table showing the relevant video tutorial for each one, so you can get the same background that MIT students had when they were asked to face these challenges.

The entire course textbook is also available for free and can be downloaded.

All the non-video resources for the course are gathered together in a handy course index, so you can see in one place which resource aligns with which for each week of the semester, including the problem sets and exams.

Other Versions, Other Resources

The Spring 2015 course site is but the latest version of 6.042J to be published on OCW. Math enthusiasts can find more excitement in a Fall 2010 version taught by Professor Tom Leighton and Dr. Marten van Dijk (which features full video lectures), and a Fall 2005 version, co-taught by Professor Meyer and Professor Ronitt Rubenfield, that has solutions for its in-class problems, problem sets, and exams.

It all adds up to a very logical conclusion: OCW’s suite of 6.042J course sites is awesome!