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January 10, 2013

Design and Analysis of Algorithms (CSCI 5454)

Returning from paternity leave last semester, it is back into the fire this semester with my large graduate-level algorithms class, Design and Analysis of Algorithms (CSCI 5454). This year, I am again shocked to find that it is the largest grad class in my department, with 60 enrolled students and 30 students on the waiting list. In the past, enrollment churn at the beginning of the semester [1] has been high enough that everyone on the wait list has had an opportunity to take the class. I am not sure that will be true this year. This year will also be the last time I teach it, for a while.

My version of this course covers much of the standard material in algorithms, but with a few twists. Having tinkered considerably with the material a year ago, I'm going to tinker a little less this year. That being said, improving is a never-ending process and there are a number of little things on the problem sets and lectures that I want to try differently this time. The overall goals remain the same: to show students how different strategies for algorithm design work (and sometimes don't work), to get them thinking about boundary cases and rigorous thinking, to get them to think carefully about whether an algorithm is correct or not, and to introduce them to several advanced topics and algorithms they might encounter out in industry.

For those of you interested in following along, I will again be posting my lecture notes on the class website.


[1] Caused in part by some students enrolling thinking the class would be easy, and then dropping it when they realize that it requires real effort. To be honest, I am okay with this, although it does make for scary enrollment numbers on the first day.

posted January 10, 2013 09:39 AM in Teaching | permalink


You mean you don't yet have a reputation for being tough? I earned that rep in my very first term at Oxford. :)

Posted by: Mason Porter at January 10, 2013 02:15 PM

Oh, I have tried hard to convince the students that they have to work hard in my class. I fear that its popularity is not because it is easy...

Posted by: Aaron at January 10, 2013 07:23 PM