The Essentials

Course Details:CS 252 (Algorithms), Winter 2014, Carleton College.
Meetings:3a (MW 11:10am–12:20pm, F 12:00pm–1:00pm) in LDC 104.
Instructor:Jadrian Miles; CMC 320, x5173, jadrian
Office Hours:M 3pm–4pm; W 9:30am–10:30am; Th 10am–11am; Th 1:15pm–2:15pm; F 1:30pm–2pm
Textbook:Jon Kleinberg and Éva Tardos, “Algorithm Design”, 1st ed. Addison Wesley, 2005.
Homework Guidelines:
Homework Rubric:
Feedback Key:

Course Content

This course is about solving, and about writing about solving, computational problems. By studying some selected applied problems and their distilled classical formulations, we will learn:

We are going to cover much of the book. This includes (not necessarily in this order):

For more details, please see the schedule page, which will be kept up-to-date as I adjust the schedule throughout the course.

Course Requirements

Who to Ask for Help


Your grade will be computed as follows:

Component% of Overall Grade
Classroom Participation12%
Exams22% each

Assignments will be submitted via the course hand-in directory on your Courses network drive.

Using the above weights, a total of 90% and up will earn you some level of A, 80% and up at least some level of B, 70% and up at least some level of C, 60% and up at least some level of D.

The problem sets are graded on a categorical and non-arithmetical scale; for convenience, each category is given a number (0 to 5) but the mapping from these categories to letter grades is highly nonlinear and changes as the term progresses. That is, two 3s is not the same thing as a 2 and a 4. For more details, see the Homework Guidelines page.

Assignments turned in early will be rewarded; those turned in late will be penalized. Here's the breakdown:

Hours earlyBonus (percentage points)
Hours latePenalty (percentage points)

To be clear, assignments turned in more than 72 hours late will receive no credit.

This scheme is designed to eliminate the distinction between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” late submissions. Unless something truly extraordinary happens, there will be no extensions given. If you turn something in late, no explanation is necessary or desired. Note that turning in five assignments a day early balances out turning one in half a day late. Note also that there are 22 assignments, comprising 22% of your total grade.

Since each problem in the problem sets is turned in on a different day, each one is technically a separate “assignment” and bonuses and penalties will be assessed separately on each one. At the end of the term, all your bonuses and penalties will be averaged together and then applied directly to the “Assignments” portion of your grade.

Academic Honesty and Collaboration Policy

You are expected to maintain the utmost level of academic integrity in the course. Any violation of the code of academic integrity will result in severe punishment, which may include receiving a failing grade in the course or even dismissal from the college. Academic dishonesty has no place in an institute of higher learning; it wastes my time and yours.

Please familiarize yourself, if you haven't already, with the College's academic integrity policy and the Dean of the College's detailed guide to academic integrity.

My motivation for the course’s collaboration policy, which is below, is as follows. I am a major proponent of you learning from each other in a course like this one, and I strongly encourage you to work together in attacking homework exercises. Students who think about problems together almost always learn more and find difficult problems less frustrating than those who work alone. However, there is a major difference between, on the one hand, thinking about and solving a question as a group (which is good, both educationally and morally); and, on the other hand, copying an answer from someone else or giving a answer to someone else to copy (which is bad, educationally and morally, and has punitive consequences). The policy below is formulated to encourage the former while banning the latter.

Collaboration policy: You may collaborate on the homework assignments to the extent of formulating ideas as a group, but you may not collaborate in the actual writing of solutions. In particular, you may not work from notes taken during collaborative sessions. You must cite all sources, including others in the class from whom you obtained ideas. You may not consult any materials from any previous offerings of this course or from any other similar course offered elsewhere.

You are required to completely understand any solution that you submit, and, in case of any doubt, you must be prepared to orally explain your solution to me. If you have submitted a solution that you cannot verbally explain to me, then you have violated this policy.

Of course, there is to be no collaboration whatsoever on any quizzes or exams. Policies for what constitutes acceptable reference material, if any, will be specified in detail when the exam is distributed.

I am obligated by the Faculty Handbook to report any suspected violations to the Dean’s office. Any student who is found responsible for academic dishonesty in this class will receive an F for the course.

If you have any doubt about any aspect of this policy, ask beforehand!