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    COT 5405 Advanced Algorithms
    Fall Semester 2009


This class has students attending in two distinct modes:

  1. Distance Learning On-Line
  2. Mixed Mode On-Campus

The content, objectives, assignments, assessments, and grading are the same for all students. Obviously, however, on-campus and on-line students sometimes participate in different ways.

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.


Recitation  TEC 142   Aug 25 - Dec 8   Tue   5:15pm - 7:30pm (Central Time)


There will be two exams in COT 5405, a midterm exam and a final exam. The dates for the two exams are shown in the following table.

Exam Calendar
Exam On-Campus Distance Window (Inclusive)
Midterm Exam Tue Oct 27 Tue Oct 27 - Fri Oct 30
Final Exam Tue Dec 8 Tue Dec 8 - Fri Dec 11

For on-campus students: All exams will be given in class during scheduled class time.

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.


Your instructor is Dr. Chris Lacher. He has many years teaching and research experience in the area, including considerable experience developing and teaching on-line. For a complete introduction click here. Consult the following table for contact information. Click the Lacher Weekly Schedule link for complete details on Dr Lacher's schedule and for announcements of changes in time or location.

Instructor: Chris Lacher
Office:  A2110 Academic Center / Panama City Campus 
Office Phone (during office hours): 
(these all ring the same instrument)  
850-770-2256 (local direct line)
850-644-2090x2256 (local Tallahassee)
866-693-7872x2256 (toll free)
Mobile Phone & Voice Mail (24/7): 850-510-5575 
Email:  lacher@cs.fsu.edu
Mail & Delivery: Florida State University
4750 Collegiate Drive
Panama City, FL 32405-1099
Lacher Weekly Schedule Effective Aug 24 - Dec 11, 2009 (excluding Sep 7, Nov 11, and Nov 25-27)


Algorithms lie in the intersection of computer theory, computer systems, computer software, and computer applications and thus arguably constitute the core of computing. A familiarty with known algorithms, an ability to derive and prove correctness of new algorithms and to evaluate their computational costs, and knowledge of how and when to use various algorithms is an essential part of the repertoire of researchers, developers, and other computer professionals.


Algorithms, formal proofs of correctness, and time complexity analysis for: network flow problems, approximation of NP hard combinatorial optimization problems, parallel algorithms, cache-aware algorithms, randomized algorithms, computational geometry, string algorithms, and other topics requiring advanced techniques for proof of correctness or time/space complexity analysis.

The course will address the following topics:

  • Sorting and Order Algorithms, including:
    heap algorithms, quicksort, mergesort, radix and bucket sort, medians and order statistics
  • Set Algorithms (and supporting data structures), including:
    red-black trees, B-trees, binomial and fibanacci heaps, hash tables
  • Graph Algorithms, including:
    depth- and breadth- first search, topological sort, minimum spanning trees, shortest paths, maximum flow
  • Advanced Topics, from among:
    dynamic programming, greedy algorithms, amortized analysis, sorting networks, matrix operations, linear programming, polynomials and the fast fourier transform, number-theoretic algorithms, string matching, NP-completeness, approximation algorithms for NP hard problems, AI algorithms, Special Topics


The course COP 4531 is a required prerequisite for COT 5405. COP 4531 is a capstone course in our undergraduate curriculum with the following prerequisit tree:

                            /   |   \
                    COP4530  MAD3105  STA3032/STA4442
                   /   |   \    |   \    |
            COP3330 CDA3101 MAD2104   MAC2312

These courses represent a significant and deep body of knowledge that is fundamental to success in our graduate program. The courses include: Calculus I and II, Discrete Mathematics I and II, Probability and Statistics for Engineers, Computer Organization, Object Oriented Programming, Generic Programming, Data Structures, and Analysis of Algorithms. This knowledge will be assumed and used routinely in this course.


At the end of this course, the student should have the following skills and capabilities.

  • Be able to state the main algorithms in each if the areas mentioned under COURSE DESCRIPTION above, including hypotheses, conclusions, and processes
  • For each of these algorithms, be able to apply it effectively
  • For each of these algorithms, be able to prove its correctness and analyze its time complexity in a mathematically rigorous manner
  • State the basic techniques behind each of these algorithms
  • Be able to apply the techniques to derive algorithmic solutions for new problems
  • Given a practical application, identify the computational issues and apply suitable algorithms to solve it effectively


  • Textbook: Introduction to Algorithms (2nd edition), T.H. Cormen, C.E. Leiserson, R.L. Rivest, C. Stein, MIT press, 2001 (ISBN 0-262-03293-7). Chapter, Section, and Page numbers without another specific citation refer to this text.
  • Discrete Math Textbook: Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications (6th edition), Kenneth H. Rosen (2007), McGraw-Hill, 2007 (ISBN-13: 978-0-07-288008-3)
  • Materials: Course notes, assignments, and other materials will be released through the Course Organizer (which contains the Course Calendar
  • Communication: The discussion board and gradebook in Blackboard is the primary out-of-class communication tool.


The following Table 1 summarizes the grade components and their weighting. The final course grade will be determined using Table 2.

 Table 1: Course Component Weighting 
 Item    Weight (Percent) 
 Participation   20 
 Assignments   20 
 Project   20 
 Midterm Exam   20 
 Final Exam   20 

Note that a course with grade below B-
is not credited towards a graduate degree.

 Table 2: Letter Grades  
 Percentage Range   Grade 
 [92 - 100]   A 
 [90 - 92)   A- 
 [88 - 90)   B+ 
 [82 - 88)   B 
 [80 - 82)   B- 
 [78 - 80)   C+ 
 [72 - 78)   C 
 [70 - 72)   C- 
 [68 - 70)   D+ 
 [62 - 68)   D 
 [60 - 62)   D- 
 [0 - 60)   F 

Class Participation: Students are expected to prepare for class by keeping up with assigned reading, exercises, and review questions. Regular active participation in discussions at campus.fsu.edu is expected.

Assignments: Assignments consist of exercises, problem sets, and programming that will be made in parallel with the course coverage and released via the Course Calendar.

Project: Each student will be assigned a course project and deliver a presentation on that project in class.

Exams: There will be two exams, a midterm exam and a final exam. See the Exam Schedule for details.


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 or in class on the designated date. It is the student's responsibility to arrange for proctored exams in compliance with the FSU standards. Go to http://learningforlife.fsu.edu/cat/test/distancelearning/students.cfm for complete information on setting up a proctored exam site.

Exam Makeup Policy: An unexcused absence from an exam 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-, all assignments must be submitted and receive a passing grade.


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.

Turnitin.com: FSU subscribes to Turnitin.com, a database of papers that have been previously published or turned in for credit in university courses worldwide. Student work may be checked in the Turnitin database 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.