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by Jon Bentley
Brief Description: This class will cover computational problem-solving techniques. Part of the course will involve going through Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley, a classic and one of the best “problem solving with programming” books ever written. The rest of the course will revolve around solving programming problems similar to the challenges found in programming contests, identifying common structure and problem solving techniques. The problems that we consider will have two characteristics: They are hard to solve (if not impossible) without writing a program, and a programming solution exists that is relatively succinct (typically under 100 lines). This is not about system building or writing production software — it’s about solving an immediate problem that you need an answer to.
Please note the emphasis on problem solving. This course is not about the mechanical aspects of programming, such as syntax or basic logic. You should already be fluent in a high-level programming language (preferably Java or C++). If you must refer to programming language references when you are writing programs, you will probably not be able to complete the work in this class.
Student Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course, students will have demonstrated an ability to
- write programs to solve advanced computational problems;
- analyze several alternative solutions to determine the best approach;
- justify that a program correctly solves a given problem.
An additional outcome, although difficult to measure and assess, is that students should build a better intuitive sense of problem solving through programming.