Data Structures & Algorithms
CS 305 & 503

Fall 2009

I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is whether he considers his code or his data structures more important. Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.

Linus Torvalds, Git mailing-list message, 27 July 2006

Table of Contents

Course Description

The course is divided into five sections. See the syllabus for details.

The class meets on Tuesdays in Howard Hall 543 (the wireless lab) from 6 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. and on Thursdays in Howard Hall C1 (the cs conference room) from 6 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. There is no class on Thanksgiving, Thursday, 27 November. Thursday, 6 November is the last day to withdraw from class with a W on your transcript.


At the end of this course you should will

  1. know some basic data structures and algorithms,

  2. be able to choose wisely among data structures and algorithms, and

  3. design and write code supporting data structures and algorithms well.


R. Clayton, Office hours are from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in HH C-3 (schedule).


The usual grade ranges are in effect:
For CS 305: for CS 503:
95 A
90 A-<95
83.3B <86.6
80 B-<83.3
73.3C <76.6
70 C-<73.3
60 D<70
95 A
90 A-<95
83.3B <86.6
80 B-<83.3
73.3C <76.6
70 C-<73.3
All grades are kept with one digit of precision to the right of the decimal point and 0.05 rounded up. No grades are adjusted to a curve; that means, for example, that 89.9 is always a B+, never an A-.

Final Grade

The final grade is the weighted sum of the quiz-grade average and the assignment-grade average with the weights

    50%assignment grades
    40%quiz grades
    10%presentation grade

The quiz- and assignment-grade averages are straight, unweighted averages.


There are four quizzes, one quiz for each section after the first section; see the syllabus for the schedule. Quizzes are given in class, and are closed book with no notes; calculators and computers will not be necessary. The quizzes are cumulative, covering everything taught up to and including the class before the quiz. Quizzes should take no more than an hour to complete, and are given in the first hour of class. Quiz answers will be made available off the syllabus.

There are no midterms or final exams. Mid-term grades are computed from the straight, unweighted average of what ever grades have accrued by the day mid-term grades are due (Tuesday, 27 October).

Programming Assignments

There are four programming assignments, one for each section after the first. Each assignment is as long as the section in which it is given; see the syllabus for details.

Problem Presentation

Each person in class will give two talks about a problem they've solved; see the problem-talk page for more details.



The textbook for this class is Data Structures & Algorithms in Java, second edition, by Robert Lafore, Sams, 2003.

An annotated bibliography of other books of interest.


Feel free to send e-mail to . Unless I warn you beforehand, I'll usually respond within a couple of hours during the usual work days; if I don't respond within a day, resend the message.

Mail relevant to the class are stored in a hyper-mail archive. If your message is of general interest to the class, I'll store it, suitably stripped of identification and along with my answer, in the archive.

Home page

If you're reading this on paper, you can find the class home page at ( I'll make the class notes, assignments, and quizzes available off the syllabus (; you should get in the habit of checking the home page and syllabus regularly.


The lectures for this class will be recorded and podcast. Audio will be available on the syllabus and via an RSS feed.


Follow the course on twitter: .



People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University's ADA/504 coordinator to get those needs met. See the Disability Services page for more details.


I have no class attendance policy; you may attend class or not as you see fit. However, I hold you responsible for knowing everything that goes on in class; "I wasn't in class for that." is not an acceptable excuse for a wrong answer, or for giving no answer at all.

My attendance policy applies only to lecture attendance; it does not apply to other kinds of attendance which may be required for the course. Repeated failures to meet the attendance expectations set for tests, meetings, projects, labs or other forms of course work will have a bad influence on your grade.

Monmouth University does have a class attendance policy, which you can find in the Academic Information chapter of the Student Handbook. To the extent that I need to keep the record straight, I will take attendance. Attendance lists, however, are entirely for the University's benefit; I will make no use of them in grading.


I deal with suspected cheating by failing first and asking questions later. Although cheating has many forms, I generally consider cheating to be any attempt to claim someone else's work as your own; also, I consider both the provider and the user of the work guilty of cheating. See the chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook for more details.

Complaining about Grades

I recognize and encourage a student's sacred right to complain about their grade. There are, however, a few rules under which such complaining should take place, and those students who don't follow the rules will be less successful in their complaints than those students who do follow the rules.

First, the only complaint that matters is that something got marked wrong when it was actually right. When you come to complain, be prepared to present, in explicit detail, what it is you did and why you think it's right.

Second, complaints about a particular test or assignment are only valid until the next test or assignment is due; after that point the book is permanently closed on all previous test or assignment grades.

Late Assignments

Assignments must be turned in by their due date; assignments turned in after their due date are late. You should contact me as soon as possible if you need to negotiate a due-date extension. The longer you wait to negotiate, the less likely it is you'll be successful; in particular, you have almost no chance of getting an extension if you try for one the day before the due date, and you have no chance of getting an extention on the due date.

A late assignment is penalized five points a day for each day it's late. I use a 24-hour clock running from midnight to midnight to measure days; note this means that an assignment handed in the day after it's due is penalized ten points: five for the day it was due and five for the next day.

Missing Tests

There may occasionally be a conflict between taking a test and doing something else, particularly among those working full time. If you're going to be out of town, or on jury duty, or whatever, on a test day, let me know beforehand and we'll discuss a make-up test.

A make-up test must be scheduled to be taken by the date of the test following the missed test (or the final exam if you miss the last test). If a missed test is not made up by the time of the next test, you get a zero for the missed test.

There will be only one make up given per missed test. If more than one person misses the same test, those people will have to coordinate among themselves to pick a mutually agreeable date for the make up.


The NIST dictionary of algorithms and data structures.

FreeTechBooks' list of on-line data structures and algorithm books.

Softpanorama's old but wide ranging link page for data structures and algorithms.

Algosort's link page to algorithm pages.

This page last modified on 1 September 2009.

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