CS 305 - Computer Algorithms I

Fall 2003

Computer programs are very important because they transcend mere "data" --- they include procedures and processes for structuring and manipulating data

--- J. Licklider and Robert Taylor
The Computer as a Communication Device
Science and Technology, April 1968

Table of Contents

Course Description

This is an undergraduate course in basic data structures and algorithms.

This course is an introduction to data structures such as lists, stacks, queues, and binary trees, the algorithms that manipulate these data structures, and some informal analysis techniques for estimating the performance of both data structures and algorithms. Prerequisites are MA 120 (Discrete Math) and either CS 176 (Introduction to Computer Science II) or CS 275 (Introduction to an Algorithmic Language).

The class is divided into five three-week sections. See the syllabus for details.

The class meets in Howard Hall L512 (Go past Howard Hall to Pollak Auditorium; make a left at the Auditorium doors; L512 is the lecture hall just after the Box Office) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, 5 November, is the last day you can withdraw from the class with a W. There will no be class on Thursday, 27 November (Thanksgiving).


This course represents your first steps towards becoming somebody who can competently write computer programs to to solve problems. By the time this course is over, you should understand



There will be five programming assignments and five tests, one assignment and test for each of the five sections; see the syllabus for the schedule.

Each programming assignment will be made available on the syllabus at the start of the associated section. Programming assignments are due three weeks from the day the assignment is issued. My version of the programming assignment will be made available on the syllabus after all the assignments have been received.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of programming assignment grades and test grades; each programming-assignment and test grade contributes one-tenth to your final grade.

The usual grade ranges are in effect:

95 <=A
90 <=A-< 95
86.6<=B+< 90
83.3<=B < 86.6
80 <=B-< 83.3
76.6<=C+< 80
73.3<=C < 76.6
70 <=C-< 73.3
60 <=D < 70
F < 60
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-.



The textbook for this class is C++ An Introduction to Data Structures by Larry Nyhoff Prentice-Hall, 1999. An errata is available off Nyhoff's web page for the book.

It's important that you do the readings; I will not read the text to you. My lectures generally pick out interesting or confusing points in the readings and expand on them; if you don't do the readings, you'll have a tough time following the lectures. Plus, every test will contain at least one question about something we haven't covered in class but is fully covered in the readings.


You should feel free to send me e-mail. 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 seminar will be stored in a hyper-mail archive. If your message is of general interest to the seminar, 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 home page at http://www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/web-pages/f03-305/index.html. I'll make the notes and assignments available off the syllabus; you should get in the habit of checking the home page and syllabus regularly.



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 me or 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.


This page last modified on 25 August 2003.