CS 215: Analysis and Design of Algorithms

Kalamazoo College, Winter 2015


Course Description: This course is an introduction to a variety of algorithms and algorithm design techniques that recur in computer science literature and applications. These include common sorting and searching algorithms, divide- and-conquer and dynamic programming algorithms, and algorithms in the areas of string processing, geometry, and graph theory. This course also provides an introduction to the mathematical analysis of the complexity and performance of algorithms.

Hands-on programming is a central component of this course. There will not be a weekly laboratory session, but there will be numerous mini-labs and outside programming assignments. Assignments will focus on the design, implementation, and testing of object-oriented programs.

Prerequisites: COMP 110 (Intro. to Programming).
MATH 250 (Discrete Mathematics)
Instructor: Gerry Howser
Olds/Upton 311, 337-7379
Dr. Howser's weekly schedule
Required Text:

Cormen et al, Introduction to Algorithms, 3rd, MIT Press, 1990.

Class Web Site: http://www.gerryhowser.com/classes/cs215Winter2015/

You can find other references in the class bibliography.

Computing Resources and Software:

Topics to be covered (and tentative course schedule):
Week 1: Algorithms:
Definition of our computer
Week 2: 2.1 Simple Algorithms and Invatiants
2.2 Run-time analysis
2.3 Some algorithm design basics: Divide and Conquer approach
Week 3: Asymptotic Analysis
Big O, Big Omega, and Theta
Complex functions and tricks
Appendix A:  Math Techniques
Week 4: Recurrences
Week 5: Heapsort revisited
Week 6 Greedy Algorithms and Optimality
Week 7 & 8: Dynamic Programming 
Weeks 9: Graph Algorithms
Week 10: Spanning Tree
Shortest Path
Brief Introduction to NP Completeness
Exam Week: Final Exam

Attendance and Participation:

Regular attendance and fully engaged participation is expected of all students in this course. Your grade will be partially based on in-class projects, discussions, and occasional quizzes, so your attendance will affect your grade. Active participation in the class means being on time, being prepared, listening to others, contributing ideas of your own, and asking questions as they come up.

Assignments and Grades:

Assignments, announcements, class notes, and other material will be made available on the course web site:http://www.gerryhowser.com/classes/cs215Winter2015. Students are responsible for checking this resource frequently.

Reading assignments and discussion questions or exercises may be assigned for each class. You are expected to come to class having completed the assignment and being prepared to discuss both the ideas from the reading and your solutions to any exercises. You should also bring questions you have from the reading to class. You are encouraged to work on the discussion questions and exercises in groups; just be sure that each group member understands each answer well enough to present it to the class.

There will be 8 - 10 programming projects assigned throughout the quarter, which may take a week or longer to complete. The time required to write a program and debug it is difficult to predict, but time-management skills are as critical in industry as they are in college. I will make programming assignments available online far enough in advance that you will have some flexibility in scheduling your work, but you are responsible for budgeting your time wisely so that you will be able to complete your projects on time. Assignments must always be turned in at the beginning of class unless you clear it with me in advance.

There will be 2 exams: a midterm and a cumulative final exam.

Programming Guidelines:

Two documents, the CS Program Style Guide and Documentation Standards, describe the programming style and documentation standards for this course. Following these standards is an important step towards writing well-structured and reusable programs. You may use two templates that have been created to help you meet the documentation standards: the class template and main class template.

For Winter 2015, any method that accepts input parameters with pre-conditions must have those pre-conditions noted in the method documentation. For example: @param month the two digit calendar month (01 to 12, January = 01). In addition, any pre-conditions must be checked immediately when the method is invoked and exceptions handled properly. Remember a constructor is a special method and must be documented appropriately.

The CS Program Style Guide also provides a general description of the grading criteria used in this course.

Collaboration and the Honor System:

This course operates in accordance with the principles of the Kalamazoo College Honor System: responsibility for personal behavior, independent thought, respect for others, and environmental responsibility. In particular, academic integrity is a fundamental principle of scholarship. Representing someone else's work as your own, in any form, constitutes academic dishonesty. Unauthorized collaboration and receiving help from others outside the bounds permitted by the instructor are also violations of the College honor system. You are responsible for working within the permitted bounds, and acknowledging any help from others or contributions from other sources.

Discussion questions: You should feel free to work with others on the discussion questions. As you work with others, keep in mind that the goal is not just getting a solution to the problem, but learning how to solve the problem yourself.

Laboratory Assignments and Programming projects: For many of the lab assignments and programming projects you will be permitted to work in pairs. I will try to be clear about whether a given lab or project must be done individually or may be done in pairs, but you are responsible for consulting with me if you are in any doubt. When teams are permitted, you should indicate both authors in the program documentation and turn in only one copy of the program for the team (not one for each team member). When you work with a partner, each individual takes full responsibility for the finished product, and each individual must be equally involved in developing the solution.

You may discuss the requirements and strategies of a programming assignment with others in the class, but you should not look at code belonging to anyone outside your team or make your code available to anyone other than your teammate. If you have code-specific questions you should address them to a course TA or computer science faculty member only. You should acknowledge in your program documentation any help you receive.

Exams should be entirely your own work.

Any student with a disability who needs an accommodation or other assistance in this course should make an appointment to speak with me as soon as possible.