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    COP 4531 Complexity and Analysis of Data Structures and Algorithms
    Fall Semester 2014


This class has students attending in two distinct modes:

  1. Monthly Conferences (Panama City section)
  2. Distance Learning On-Line (All other sections)

The content, objectives, assignments, assessments, and grading are the same for all students.

For all students: Regular participation via the campus.fsu.edu [Blackboard] course interface is required. Official course announcements, lecture materials, assignments, and help archives will all be on-line at this site. Note that all registered students should have the course web site listed on their campus.fsu.edu portal page. Be sure to test this and resolve any difficulties no later than the first week of classes.

For PC-campus students: You will have regular one-on-one meeting scheduled with the instructor for the purpose of reviewing all of your class work product, which includes all code written for the class as well as all homework assignments. These conferences will be approximately every 3-4 weeks. (The precise schedule will be available during the first week of classes.)

For on-line students: A minimum of 2 1/2 hours per week participation in the Blackboard discussion forums is required, in addition to remaining current in the lecture notes and parallel reading. The materials available are the same as those for on-campus students.


Chris Lacher, Faculty
Responsibilities: Instructor, On-Line Instruction, Assignments, Final Grades, Course Manager  
Office: A-211-O Academic Center / Panama City Campus 
Office Phone (during office hours):   850-770-2256 (local direct line)
Mobile Phone & Voice Mail (24/7): 850-510-5575 
Email:  lacher "at" cs "dot" fsu "dot" edu
Mail & Delivery: Florida State University
4750 Collegiate Drive
Panama City, FL 32405-1099
Lacher Weekly Schedule Effective Aug 25 - Dec 5, 2014 (excluding Sep 1, Nov 11 and Nov 26-30)
Brian Hague, Teaching Assistant and Mentor
Responsibilities: On-Line Help, On-Line Mentor, Project Assessment, Instructor Liason and General Watchdog 
Email:  hague "at" cs "dot" fsu "dot" edu


This is a capstone course in our curriculum. The prerequisite tree is as follows:

                            /   |   \
                    COP4530  MAD3105  STA3032/STA4442
                   /   |   \    |   \    |
            COP3330 CDA3100 MAD2104   MAC2312
             /   \                       |
       COP3014  COP3344               MAC2311

The supporting courses constitute a significant and deep body of knowledge that is assumed as a base from which to build COP 4531. These prequisites will be enforced. Students not having credit for these prequisite courses must have special permission from the instructor or be dropped from the class. (NOTE: We will generally allow taking STA 3032 concurrently with COP 4531.)


Data structures and algorithms, and their analysis, form the foundation of both the theory and practice of all computing disciplines. Mastery of these materials is an essential ingredient to becoming a computer scientist.


This is a continuation of the course COP 4530 Data Structures, Algorithms, and Generic Programming, with emphasis evolving to more sophisticated structures, more complex analyses, and higher levels of abstraction. There is a shift upward from programming and toward theory, experiment, and mathematical analysis.

The courses COP 4530 and this one (COP 4531) are about efficiency of programs and programming, in various meanings of efficient. It is efficient to re-use code instead of re-writing code (or, worse, re-inventing code). It is efficient to select only the linguistic features you need without having to use costly extra features you do not need. It is efficient to minimize the run time of code, especially code that is destined for re-use. It is also efficient to minimize the memory and storage needs of code, recognizing that there may be a tradeoff between speed and memory requirements. It is efficient to spend less time writing a program of equal quality, and even more efficient to spend the same time writing a program of higher quality. In many applications, correctness is the ultimate form of efficiency, while in others efficiency means getting the best result possible in the limited time (or space) available.

Efficiency can happen at different levels. Take code: source code can be small in size, easy to read, and easy to understand. Executable code can be fast or compact (or both). The code production process can be efficient by applying good software engineering methodology. Code can run efficiently, in either a temporal or spatial sense. Savings in human effort also represent efficiency. Effort can be saved by good design, by careful (error-free) programming, and by re-using both code itself and patterns of problem solving that are known to be successful.

All these ideas of efficiency are central to this course sequence. It is also true that all of these ideas of efficiency are fundamental to the design and specification of the C++ language, which is one of many reasons C++ is a great choice for the core language in our curriculum and for this course.

The three topics mentioned in the title of the course are analysis, data structures, and algorithms. Data structures will be discussed in abstract terms (as abstract data types, or ADTs) but they will also be looked at in very concrete ways, actually implemented using C++. Algorithms are formalizations of processes that result in predictable and desirable outcomes. Algorithms are used in a variety of contexts. Particularly, data structures are made usable by implementing algorithms for searching, sorting, and indexing the structures.

We will have several substantial programming projects that involve the implementation and use of data structures, algorithms, and generic programming, as well as scholarly paper and homework assignments of a more analytical nature.


At the end of this course, the student should have experienced, and should permanently retain a working knowledge of, the following topics and concepts. (Those that are introduced or reviewed in this course are in color. Others listed should have been covered in a previous course.)

Data Structures

  • Definition, implementation, and use of the following concepts:
    Positional ADTs: vector, list, deque, stack, queue, binary tree, graph, directed graph, directed acyclic graph (DAG), network
    Associative ADTs: table, associative array, priority queue, ordered set, ordered map, ordered multiset, ordered multimap, hashset, hashmap, hashmultiset, hashmultimap, associative array, disjoint-sets / union-find
  • Definition and use of iterators associated with these ADTs
  • Familiarity and experience implementing these abstractions, including their associated iterator classes and including performance constraints (in terms of runtime complexity) on the operations. Implementations will include the following: vector, list, deque, stack, queue, priority queue, sorted list, binary tree, binary search tree, red-black and height-balanced trees, hash set, hash table, associative array, graph, directed graph, network. Note that this implies the detailed study of trees of several types a implementation structures and the use of template classes as well as the elementary study of algorithms and their complexity.


  • Familiarity and experience with algorithm theory: proof of correctness and informal complexity analysis
  • Familiarity and experience with specific algorithms (covered or reviewed in this course shown in color): Sequential Search, Binary Search, Push and Pop Heap, Heap Sort, Insertion Sort, Merge Sort, Quick Sort, Depth-First Search, Breadth-First Search, Topological Sort, Minimum Spanning Trees, Shortest Paths, Maximum Flows, Implementations of hash set and map operations, Disjoint set data structures and operations.

Generic Programming

  • Familiarity and experience with generic containers as class templates with typename template parameters
  • Familiarity and experience with generic algorithms as function templates with iterator template parameters


The following materials are required:

  • Lecture Notes: Slides and Narrative: available through Blackboard under "Lecture Notes"
  • Code Distribution Library: progressively released as needed at /home/courses/cop4531p/fall14/ (see Chapter 1 of Lecture Notes for details)
  • Cormen, T.H.; Leiserson, C.E; Rivest, R.L.; and Stein, C. (2009). Introduction to Algorithms (3rd ed.). MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
    ISBN 978-0-262-03384-8
The following optional reference books are sanctioned for this course:
  • Sedgewick, Robert and Wayne, Kevin (2011). Algorithms [Java], 4th Edition, Pearson, ISBN 0-321-57351-X
  • Sedgewick, Robert (2001). Algorithms [C++], Parts 1-5, 3rd Edition, Pearson, ISBN 0-201-72684-X
  • Stroustrup, Bjarne (1997). The C++ Programming Language (3rd edition). Addison-Wesley.
    ISBN 0-201-88954-4
  • Deitel, H.M. and Deitel, P.J. (2010). C++ - How to Program, 7th edition, by Deitel, Prentice Hall.
    ISBN 0-201-88954-4 (or any earlier edition)
  • Ford, W. and Topp, W. (2002). Data Structures with C++ Using the STL (2nd edition). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
    ISBN 0-13-085850-1
  • Austern, M. (1998). Generic Programming and the STL. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1998.
    ISBN 0-201-30956-4
  • Oram, A. and Talbott, S. (1991). Managing Projects with make. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates.
    ISBN 0-937175-90-0
  • Cameron, D., Rosenblatt, B., and Raymond, E. (1996). Learning GNU Emacs, 2nd Edition. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates.
    ISBN 1-56592-152-6


The overall grade for COP 4531 is an average of two equally weighted parts: Exams and Assignments. Exams consist of a midterm exam and a final exam. Assignments consist of four programming projects and four sets of analytical exercises. The dates for the two exams are shown in the Table 1 below. Due dates for other deliverables will be available on the Course Calendar.

Taking Exams

For on-campus students: The student may choose whether to sit the exam during regular class meeting or schedule the exam with the FSUPC testing center. It is the student's responsibility to schedule exams within the exam window.

For on-line students: All exams must be proctored and taken during the exam window. It is the student's responsibility to arrange for proctored exams in compliance with the FSU standards. (See COURSE POLICIES for details.)

Note that students may be required to identify themselves with official FSU ID to sit an exam.

Exam Calendar

There will be two exams: a midterm exam and a final exam. The exams must be taken during the exam window at a testing center approved by FSU Assessment Services. The exam windows for the two exams are shown in Table 1 below.

Course Grade. There are 1000 total points that may be earned in the course, distributed as shown in Table 1. At least 350 exam points (midterm and final exams) and 350 assignment points (programming projects and homework) must be earned to get a course grade of C or better. In addition, working solutions for every assignment must be submitted in order to be eligible for the grade of A. Once meeting these constraints, the final grade is determined using Table 2.

Table 1: Exam Schedule
Exam On-Line Window (Dates Inclusive)
Midterm Exam Mon Oct 6 - Sat Oct 11
Final Exam Mon Dec 8 - Sat Dec 13
 Table 2: Course Points 
 Item   Points/Item   No of Items    Total 
 Programming Assignments   50   6   300 
 Homework Assignments   50   4   200 
 Midterm Exam   200   1   200 
 Final Exam   300   1   300 
Total Points:    1000 
     Table 3: Letter Grades  
     Points   Grade 
     925 - 1000   A 
     900 - 924   A- 
     875 - 899   B+ 
     825 - 874   B 
     800 - 824   B- 
     775 - 799   C+ 
     725 - 774   C 
     700 - 724   C- 
     675 - 699   D+ 
     625 - 674   D 
     600 - 624   D- 
     0 - 599   F 

NOTE: The following are additional constraints on the final grade in this course.

  1. Certain components of assignments in this course have been designated by the Department of Computer Science for assessment of the following expected outcomes for its degree programs, as required by our accreditation agencies, the University and the State of Florida:
    1. analyze the computational complexity of algorithms used in the solution of a programming problem
    2. evaluate the performance trade-offs of alternative data structures and algorithms
    Departmental policy does not permit a final grade of "C" or better to be assigned unless the student has earned a grade of "Effective" or "Highly Effective" on each of these components, regardless of performance on other work in the course.
  2. In addition, you must earn at least 350 points in both Exams and Assignments to be awarded a course grade of C or better.
  3. Finally, you must submit a passing version of every assignment in order to be eligible for the grade of A or A-.

Assessment of Written Assignments: Written assignments generally require some mathematical reasoning and skill. These will be assessed in a manner similar to the assignments in such math courses as Discrete Mathematics II. Table 4 provides a rough guide.

 Table 4: Math Assessment Guidelines 
 Criterion   Percentage Points Range   
 Completeness of paper    0 ... 25 
 Mathematical Correctness   0 ... 25 
 Clarity of Presentation  0 ... 25 
 English grammar and usage  0 ... 25 

Assessment of Programming Assignments: Programming assignments will be assessed using Table 5 as a guide, with minor modifications depending on the specific assignment. Note that these assignments are more open-ended than assignments in the predecessor course and that assessment of these assignments will also be more open-ended. There is room for creativity and thoroughness that is left unspecified. Moreover, it is expected that all programming aspects of a project should be completed with appropriate attention to good software engineering practice: separate compilation of code files, correct inclusion of header files, a correct portable makefile, well-designed solutions, readable and self-documenting code, etc. Students at this level should not expect partial credit for projects that will not compile or code that produces incorrect output or runtime errors. Straightforward testing can eliminate such problems.

 Table 5: Programming Assessment Guidelines - Details May Vary 
 Criterion   Approximate Percentage Points Range   
 Deliverables Received and Project Builds Cleanly     0 ... 25 
 Results of Testing   0 ... 25 
 Project Meets Requirements  0 ... 25 
 Software Engineering Considerations   -25 ... 25 

See Assessment of Programming Assignments for policies on late submission of programming assignments.

ABET/SACS Program Outcomes Assessment

Department and University policy asserts that COP 4531 is to be used to assess some of the required ABET and SACS outcomes for the degree program. The outcomes assessed are:

(E.1) Analyze the computational complexity of algorithms used in the solution of a programming problem

(E.2) Evaluate the performance trade-offs of alternative data structures and algorithms

These will be assessed using the following rubric based on the overall percent grade on course assignments.

Rubric I E H  
   I = ineffective
   E = effective
   H = highly effective
  Grade on assignments 90% or higher - - x
  Grade on assignments 70% or higher but less than 90%  - x -
  Grade on assignments below 70% x - -

In order to earn a course grade of C- or better, the assessment rubric must result in Effective or Highly Effective.


First Day Attendance Policy: Official university policy is that any student not attending the first class meeting will be automatically dropped from the class. For distance students, this policy is interpreted as posting to the discussion forum "First Day Attendance" no later than the first day of the semester.

Regular Attendance Policy: The university requires attendance in all classes. Attendance in distance classes shall mean regular access to the course web site via campus.fsu.edu and regular participation in the class discussion forums. Here, "regular" shall mean a substantial amount of time on a weekly basis. Note that individual access statistics are maintained by Blackboard.

Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the immediate family and other documented crises, call to active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. Accommodations for these excused absences will be made and will do so in a way that does not penalize students who have a valid excuse. Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.

Proctored Exam Policy: All exams must be proctored and taken at an approved testing site during the exam window. It is the student's responsibility to arrange for proctored exams in compliance with the FSU standards. Go to Student Testing Responsibilities for complete information on setting up a proctored exam site. Please note also that students taking exams on main campus in Tallahassee are now required to sign up for a time slot at the site.

Exam Makeup Policy: An exam missed without an acceptable excuse will be recorded as a grade of zero (0). The following are the only acceptable excuses:

  • If submitted prior to the day of the scheduled exam:
    • A written and signed explanation as to why the exam will missed. Illness or required professional travel are acceptable, while discretionary or personal travel are not. In any case the explanation should be accompanied by corroborating documentation, including names and contact information, and the explanation must be accepted by the instructor prior to missing the exam.
    • Evidence from a university official that you will miss the exam due to university sanctioned travel or extracurricular activity.
  • If submitted on or after the day of the scheduled exam:
    • A note from a physician, university dean, spouse, parent, or yourself indicating an illness or other extraordinary circumstance that prevented you from taking the exam and could not be planned for in advance. Again, corroborating information should be supplied.

All excuses must be submitted in writing, must be signed by the excusing authority, and must include complete contact information for the authority, including telephone numbers and address.

Missed exams with acceptable excuse will be made up or assigned the average grade of all other exams, at the option of the course instructor.

Missed, and acceptably excused, final exams will result in the course grade of 'I' and must be made up in the first two weeks of the following semester.

Grade of 'I' Policy: The grade of 'I' will be assigned only under the following exceptional circumstances:

  • The final exam is missed with an accepted excuse for the absence. In this case, the final exam must be made up during the first two weeks of the following semester.
  • Due to an extended illness or other extraordinary circumstance, with appropriate documentation, the student is unable to participate in class for an extended period. In this case, arrangements must be made to make up the missed portion of the course prior to the end of the next semester.

Completion of Work Policy: To be eligible for the grade of A or A-, working versions of all programming assignments must be submitted.


The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the integrity of students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process.  Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to “. . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University.”  (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at http://dof.fsu.edu/honorpolicy.htm.)

All students are expected to uphold the Academic Honor Policy. Please note the following items are defined and made violations by the policy:

  1. Plagiarism
  2. Cheating
  3. Unauthorized Group Work
  4. Fabrication, Falsification, and Misrepresentation
  5. Multiple Submission
  6. Abuse of Academic Materials
  7. Complicity in Academic Dishonesty
  8. Attempted ...

Violations of the academic honor policy may result in failing grades and/or dismissal from the university. All students are expected to read and understand the policy.

Checking for Plagiarism: FSU subscribes several databases of papers and computer source code that have been previously published or turned in for credit in university courses worldwide. Student work may be checked in one or more of these databases for originality. Note that turning in work that contains uncited quoted material from any source is considered plagiarism and a violation of the FSU honor code.


Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:
(1) register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
(2) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type.  This should be done during the first week of class.

This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the:

Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

(This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.)


Information regarding the status of FSU in an emergency situation may be obtained from the following sources:

  • For information specific to the Panama City Campus go to the FSUPC web page at http://www.pc.fsu.edu/ or call the Campus Hotline number 850-770-2000
  • For information related to FSU in general and the Tallahassee Campus go to the FSU alerts web page at http://www.fsu.edu/~alerts/
  • For state-wide and national information, go to the Florida Division of Emergency Management information pages at http://www.floridadisaster.org/

Any specific information related to this class will be posted on the course web site or sent via email to your fsu email address.


Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice. Such notice will be in the form of a posting to the course web site on campus.fsu.edu.