SE 598 - Data Structures and Algorithms

Summer 2000

Smart data structures and dumb code works a lot better than the other way around.

- Eric Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Table of Contents

Course Description

This is a graduate-level, introductory course to data structures and algorithms. Being a special-topics course, there is no regular catalog entry, but this course is quite close in spirit to CS 503.

The prerequisites for this class are CS 500, Program Development or an undergraduate degree in computer science. You must be a programmer with a working knowledge of C++.

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

The class meets in Howard Hall 522 on Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. There will be class on Wednesday, 5 July.


The course objectives are to develop skills in programming design and implementation using data structures and algorithms. At the end of this course, you should:


R. Clayton, Howard B-13,, 732 263 5522. Office hours are on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in my office. 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 five tests and five programming assignments, one assignment and test for each of the five sections after the first; 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. Tests should take no more than an hour to complete, and will be given in the first hour of class. Test answers will be made available off the syllabus.

Each programming assignment will be made available on the syllabus at the start of the associated section. Programming assignments are due two weeks from the day the assignment is issued. My version of the programming assignment will be made available on the syllabus. See the project description for more details on the programming project.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of test scores and homework grades; that is, there are ten grades total - five from tests and five from the programming assignments - and each grade constitutes one-tenth of 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
F < 70
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 final grades.



There are two required textbooks for this course:

  1. C++: An Introduction to Data Structures by Larry Nyhoff, Prentice Hall, 1999, with errata.

  2. STL Tutorial and Reference Guide by David Musser and Atul Saini, Addison Wesley, 1996, with errata and code updates for STL changes.


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 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.


David Musser's STL page.

Silicon Graphics' STL page; it includes an index of STL features and a download page for the most recent version of the STL.

STLport is a portable re-implementation of SGI's STL. STLport includes a debug mode for detecting common STL run-time errors.

The ISO working group responsible for creating standard C++.

The Dinkumwear on-line reference for the C++ standard libraries, including the STL (those of you feeling guilty about jumpling past the copyright and license information page can click here).

The class home page for an undergraduate, STL-oriented data structures class at Northwestern University.

This page last modified on 18 August 2000.