Computer Science 385
Design and Analysis of Algorithms

Spring 2018, Siena College



Dr. James D. Teresco, Roger Bacon 321, (518) 782-6992
Electronic mail: jteresco AT (best contact method)
Twitter: @JTerescoSienaCS
Office hours: Monday 2:30-3:30, Tuesday 2:30-3:30, Wednesday 2:00-3:00, Friday 1:30-3:00, and by appointment
Class URL: [Link]
Class hour: Monday, Friday 9:10-10:10 or 10:20-11:20, Roger Bacon 302
Lab meetings: Tuesday 10:20-12:20, 4:10-6:10, or Wednesday 9:10-11:10, Roger Bacon 302


Everything on this syllabus is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and updated in the online version of the syllabus.

Course Objectives

From the course catalog: "This is a course on design and analysis of algorithms. It is organized around algorithm design techniques, including exhaustive search, divide-and-conquer, dynamic programming, greedy algorithms, and backtracking. The mathematical analysis of algorithm complexity is emphasized throughout the course."

Student Learning Outcomes

Selecting and designing algorithms and data structures is an important step in developing any software system. A skilled computer scientist must make intelligent decisions about alternate techniques, choosing from existing data structures and algorithms or designing his/her own when necessary. To prepare you for this task, you will be exposed to a set of fundamental algorithms and data structures, and you will develop tools for judging the effectiveness of an algorithm. You will learn techniques for designing your own algorithms and data structures to solve new problems, and you will learn to write algorithms and proofs of correctness.



The required text for the course is Introduction to The Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Third Edition (Addison-Wesley, 2012, ISBN 0-13-231681-1) by Anany Levitin. This is available from the Siena Bookstore (and elsewhere). If you buy elsewhere, be sure to get the correct edition.


Everyone is expected to attend class and participate in discussions. There is no formal attendance policy, but a lack of regular attendance is certain to result in lower grades on assignments and exams. Do not expect sympathy if you are struggling but are rarely seen in class and during office hours. Supplemental readings are listed on the lecture and reading schedule. Of course you are encouraged to do the reading, and you will benefit from doing so, but all important topics will be covered in class.

Be prompt, prepared, and ready to focus on the day's topics. This should go without saying, but this means your phones and other devices not being used exclusively to follow along with class materials and/or to take notes must be powered off. You may bring food or drink to class, as long as you are not a distraction to your classmates or instructor.

The lecture and reading schedule has a link to a web page for each lecture highlighting the day's topics, listing class examples, and upcoming assignment due dates. Notes are also available as PDF files linked from the lecture and reading schedule.


Problem sets will be assigned periodically. The number of points available will vary with the complexity of the assignment. Some sets may be individual work; some will be group work.

Some problem sets will require programming. For programming assignments, you may develop your programs anywhere (computers in the lab, your own PC, etc.) but grading will be done using the Siena College Computer Science systems unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform. Programming assignments will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency.

Most problem sets will require you to analyze algorithms and data structures, often including formal proofs. Your solutions should be written clearly and concisely. You should rewrite your proofs once you have worked them through once to ensure they are clear and flow well. Problem sets are great preparation for the exams.

Unless otherwise specified, late problem sets may be turned in with a penalty computed as 1.08h%, where h is the number of hours late. Extensions will only be granted in serious situations. You can find a Java program that prints out a table of the late penalties here. Work turned in after solutions have been made available cannot receive credit.


During our weekly lab meetings, you will work in groups on a set of problems. Only one solution per group will be submitted. If you do not attend lab, you cannot receive any credit for that week's lab. However, your lowest lab grade will be dropped, so save this drop grade for when you are sick or have some other kind of emergency or activity that takes you out of the classroom. If you have a laptop computer, please bring it to lab. In cases when you do not finish all tasks during the lab meeting, your submission is typically due before the start of your next lab session.


There will be a total of 3 exams: 2 evening exams, plus a final exam during exam week. The regular exams are scheduled for February 20 and April 10. The final exam will be scheduled by the registrar's office. Make-up exams cannot be given except in extreme circumstances. Exams help evaluate how well each student individually has mastered the material, and so of course no collaboration is allowed on exams.

There will also be a few in-class quizzes, announced a few days in advance. These will take no more than 30 minutes.


Grades for individual assignments and exams are not scaled. Any scaling deemed appropriate will take place at the end of the semester by adjusting the thresholds. The following thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.


Problem Sets 20% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
Labs 15% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
Exam 1 15% C+ >= 77% C >= 73% C- >= 70%
Exam 2 15% D+ >= 67% D >= 65% D- >= 60%
Quizzes 10% F < 60%
Final Exam 25%

Note: if your final exam grade is better than the lower of your two regular exams, that exam grade will be replaced by your final exam grade.


Please be sure you are familiar with the Siena College Attendance Policy.

Every college student should be motivated to attend every lecture and lab meeting for all the right reasons (e.g., desire for knowledge, desire to get the most out of every very expensive minute, etc.). As experienced college students, you understand that regular attendance is essential to your ability to master the course material.

Therefore, there is no formal attendance policy. You are expected to attend regularly, and should still see the instructor about any excused absences. An excused absence may be any of the following:

  1. A documented athletic or academic event that conflicts with a class meeting. The required paperwork must be presented in person at least one week prior to the event.
  2. A family emergency. These must be documented through the Office of Academic Affairs (783-2307), who will then contact your instructors.
  3. Personal illness. These must be documented by the Office of Student Affairs (783-2328), who will then contact your instructors.

While there is no formal penalty for unexecused absences, missing class regularly, frequent tardiness, or being distracted in class (e.g., checking your phone or Facebook) will be considered a sign that you are not taking the course seriously. Common sense suggests and experience validates that students who are frequently absent, late, or inattentive perform poorly on graded work. Do not expect compassion when final grades are assigned or extensive extra help if you do not understand a topic that was covered while you were absent without a valid excuse.

Disability Accommodations

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Siena College is committed to ensuring educational access and accommodations for all its registered students.

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations should provide documentation of such during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Accommodations must be arranged with Mr. Rob Bahny, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities (Foy 109, 783-4239).

Complaints about services provided or not provided may be brought to the attention of Public Safety at 783-2376 or Ms. Lois Goland, JD, Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Specialist (SSU 235, 782-6673).

Academic Integrity

You are encouraged to discuss the concepts related to course assignments and exams with your classmates. This is an essential part of a healthy academic environment. However, work submitted for grading must be your own (or the combined work of group members, for group assignments). Any unauthorized copying or collaboration is considered a breach of academic integrity and will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty cases are unpleasant and uncomfortable for everyone involved. You are responsible for reading and understanding the document Academic Integrity and the Siena Student and the Computer Science Department's Academic Integrity statement. The minimum penalties for a first violation will include failure (0 grade) for the assignment or exam in question and the filing of a Academic Integrity Violation Accusation Form. A second violation will result in failure of the course and a formal letter describing your misconduct will be sent to the head of the Computer Science Department and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students suspected of violating academic integrity will be referred to the Academic Integrity Committee for final determination.

If there is any doubt about the degree of collaboration allowed or the permitted sources for a particular assignment, please ask for clarification before collaborating or consulting the source. Any such collaborations or sources must be cited properly.