Course Policies

Course Goals

The course will cover a fairly wide range of topics in algorithm design. Some of the topics will be quite a bit older work from the 1960s to more recent work from this century. We hope to present as many different tools and algorithms as time permits. Most topics will be covered in two phases. In the first we will cover an important design technique by presenting a classic possibly simple application. In the second, an application will be presented that hopefully will be one that is new to most of the class. By the end of the class students are expected to be able to recognize which tool or method to apply to a problem and reasonably proficient at using this tool. We also feel that the student should be able to explain their algorithmic design idea to their piers and supervisors both in writing and orally. This is why we require both written and oral presentations of homework. Please check the preliminary schedule for an idea of the possible topics to be covered. The schedule at this point is mostly a list of topics covered some five years ago. The schedule will be updated with several newer topics.


This class will have only one midterm. The course grade apportioning will be as follows:
Homework 30%
Midterm 30%
Final exam 40%
Here is the approximate grading standard (subject to change). Per our discussion in class, the grades will be graded on a curve. Those students completing all the work for the class should expect a grade ranging from A+ to B-.


  • All homeworks are due at the beginning of class.
  • We will not accept late submission. However, each individual student has a single 48 hours pass. This pass can be used to extend the deadline for one homework by 48 hours.
  • You are encouraged to work in groups of 2 or (preferably) 3. The group should be as diverse as possible. (Exception: Homework 0 needs to be done individually.)
  • On all assignments each person should hand-in their own writeup. That is, collaboration should be limited to talking about the problems, so that your writeup is written entirely by you and not copied from your partner. In addition, list all members of your group.
  • We prefer that you type up your solutions (preferably using LaTeX). You may neatly hand-write your solutions, but if we have trouble reading them you will be required to type up future solutions.
  • A 30% bonus will be assessed to the entire homework for each solution used in the posted solutions. Submission in LaTeX is required for consideration.
  • You can earn more than 100% on most problem sets. A score higher than 100% is bonus.
  • If you use any reference or webpage, you must cite it.


Lateness and Absence

Make-ups for the two exams and the final must be arranged at least one week in advance, barring extreme situations. Make sure to document any health problems you might have.

Academic Integrity

As a graduate class, we will assume that you understand the issues and do not need an explanation here.
Finally, feel free to contact any member of the course staff to clarify these policies.