CS 512 - Algorithm Design

Spring 2000

In The New Hacker's Dictionary under "superprogrammer," we read that "productivity can vary from one programmer to another by three orders of magnitude." I would argue that at least one of these factors of ten comes from the ability to quickly recognize what algorithms should be used to solve different parts of a problem and to find or write implementations of those algorithms that will result in an efficient program, given the available time and the characteristics of the problem. This ability is developed through experience and by understanding the highlights of the large body of algorithms and analysis of algorithms that has been developed to solve problems that occur over and over again in computer programs.

--- John Regehr, a review of Mastering Algorithms with Perl
Slashdot, 8 December 1999

Table of Contents

Course Description

This is a graduate-level course in algorithm design and and analysis. The course catalog entry has general information about CS 512.

You should be a proficient programmer and have a working knowledge of basic algorithms and data structures. The prerequisites for this class are Computer Science 509, Advanced Programming II.

The course is divided into seven two-week sections. See the syllabus for details.

The class meets in Bey Hall 134 on Mondays and Wednesdays, 8:00 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. There will be no class on Monday, 6 March and Wednesday 8 March due to Spring Break.


The course objectives are to develop skills in algorithm design and analysis. At the end of this course, you should:


R. Clayton, Howard B-13, rclayton@monmouth.edu, 732 263 5522. Office hours are Mondays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. I'm also usually happy to talk to you any time you can catch me; setting up an appointment is recommended, see my schedule for available times.


There will be seven homework sets and seven tests, one homework set and test for each of the seven sections; see the syllabus for the schedule. Tests will be given in class, and are closed book with no notes; calculators and computers will not be necessary. The tests are cumulative, covering everything taught up to and including the class before the test; however, it's a good bet that each test will concentrate on the material taught in the section preceding the test. Tests should take no more than an hour to complete, and will be given in the first half of the class. Test answers will be made available off the syllabus.

Each homework set will be made available on the syllabus at the start of the associated section. Homework is due two weeks later on the day of the test. Homework answers will be made available on the syllabus.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of test scores and homework grades; that is, there are fourteen grades total - seven from tests and seven from homework - and each grade constitutes one-fourteenth of your final grade.

I use the usual grade ranges:

90<=A-<= 95
87<B+< 90
83<B<= 87
80<=B-<= 83
77<C+< 80
73<C<= 77
70<=C-<= 73
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 that 89.9 is a B+, not an A-.

The distribution of final grades.



The textbook is Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas Cormen, Charles Leiserson, and Ronald Rivest, MIT Press, 1990. There's an errata sheet and other, less useful, information on the book's home page. Also check out the annotated bibliography of books on algorithm analysis and design.


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 class will be 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 http://www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/web-pages/s00-512/index.html. I'll make the class notes, assignments, and tests 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.


Cheating's not nice; don't do it. Anyone caught cheating fails the course. The chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook describe academic honesty and how it can be violated.

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.


A serendipitous list of links to algorithm and data-structure Web pages.

The last time I taught this course.

Other courses in algorithms and data structures

The man who started it all.

This page last modified on 25 June 2000.