David M. Mount
Department of Computer Science
University of Maryland
prepared by David Mount for the course CMSC 451, Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms, at the University of Maryland. Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute these notes for educational purposes and without fee is hereby granted, provided that this copyright notice appear in all copies.
values asinput and produces some values asoutput. Like a cooking recipe, an algorithm provides a step-by-step method for solving a computational problem. Unlike programs, algorithms are not dependent on a particular programming language, machine, system, or compiler. They are mathematical entities, which can be thought of as running on some sort ofidealized computer with an in\ufb01nite random access memory and an unlimited word size. Algorithm design is all about the mathematical theory behind the design of good programs.
ming that make it so complex. The \ufb01rst is that most programming projects are very large, requiring the coor- dinated efforts of many people. (This is the topic a course like software engineering.) The next is that many programming projects involve storing and accessing large quantities of data ef\ufb01ciently. (This is the topic of courses on data structures and databases.) The last is that many programming projects involve solving complex computational problems, for which simplistic or naive solutions may not be ef\ufb01cient enough. The complex problems may involve numerical data (the subject of courses on numerical analysis), but often they involve discrete data. This is where the topic of algorithm design and analysis is important.
Although the algorithms discussed in this course will often represent only a tiny fraction of the code that is generated in a large software system, this small fraction may be very important for the success of the overall project. An unfortunately common approach to this problem is to \ufb01rst design an inef\ufb01cient algorithm and data structure to solve the problem, and then take this poor design and attempt to \ufb01ne-tune its performance. The problem is that if the underlying design is bad, then often no amount of \ufb01ne-tuning is going to make a substantial difference.
preliminary material, including asymptotics, summations, and recurrences and sorting. These have been covered in earlier courses, and so we will breeze through them pretty quickly. We will then discuss approaches to designing optimization algorithms, including dynamic programming and greedy algorithms. The next major focus will be on graph algorithms. This will include a review of breadth-\ufb01rst and depth-\ufb01rst search and their application in various problems related to connectivity in graphs. Next we will discuss minimum spanning trees, shortest paths, and network \ufb02ows. We will brie\ufb02y discuss algorithmic problems arising from geometric settings, that is, computational geometry.
Most of the emphasis of the \ufb01rst portion of the course will be on problems that can be solved ef\ufb01ciently, in the latter portion we will discuss intractability and NP-hard problems. These are problems for which no ef\ufb01cient solution is known. Finally, we will discuss methods to approximate NP-hard problems, and how to prove how close these approximations are to the optimal solutions.
a computer program implemented in some programming language and executing on some machine). As such, we can reason about the properties of algorithms mathematically. When designing an algorithm there are two fundamental issues to be considered: correctness and ef\ufb01ciency.
It is important to justify an algorithm\u2019s correctness mathematically. For very complex algorithms, this typically requires a careful mathematical proof, which may require the proof of many lemmas and properties of the solution, upon which the algorithm relies. For simple algorithms (BubbleSort, for example) a short intuitive explanation of the algorithm\u2019s basic invariants is suf\ufb01cient. (For example, in BubbleSort, the principal invariant is that on completion of theith iteration, the lasti elements are in their proper sorted positions.)
Establishing ef\ufb01ciency is a much more complex endeavor. Intuitively, an algorithm\u2019s ef\ufb01ciency is a function of the amount of computational resources it requires, measured typically as execution time and the amount of space, or memory, that the algorithm uses. The amount of computational resources can be a complex function of the size and structure of the input set. In order to reduce matters to their simplest form, it is common to consider ef\ufb01ciency as a function of input size. Among all inputs of the same size, we consider the maximum possible running time. This is calledworst-case analysis. It is also possible, and often more meaningful, to measure
key here is \u201ckeep it simple.\u201d Uninteresting details should be kept to a minimum, so that the key compu- tational issues stand out. (For example, it is not necessary to declare variables whose purpose is obvious, and it is often simpler and clearer to simply say, \u201cAddX to the end of listL\u201d than to present code to do this or use some arcane syntax, such as \u201cL.insertAtEnd(X).\u201d)
reader is someone of similar background as yourself, say another student in this class, and should be con- vincing enough make a skeptic believe that your algorithm does indeed solve the problem correctly. Avoid rambling about obvious or trivial elements. A good proof provides an overview of what the algorithm does, and then focuses on any tricky elements that may not be obvious.
Note that the presentation does not need to be in this order. Often it is good to begin with an explanation of how you derived the algorithm, emphasizing particular elements of the design that establish its correctness and ef\ufb01ciency. Then, once this groundwork has been laid down, present the algorithm itself. If this seems to be a bit abstract now, don\u2019t worry. We will see many examples of this process throughout the semester.
totic notation provides us with a way to simplify the functions that arise in analyzing algorithm running times by ignoring constant factors and concentrating on the trends for large values ofn. For example, it allows us to reason that for three algorithms with the respective running times
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