CMSC 451: Design and analysis of computer algorithms (Fall 2018, Section 0201)

Syllabus (PDF)


This course presents fundamental techniques for designing efficient computer algorithms, proving their correctness, and analyzing their performance. Topics to be covered include graph algorithms, greedy algorithms, divide-and-conquer algorithms, dynamic programming, network flow algorithms, computational intractability, approximation algorithms, randomized algorithms, and quantum algorithms.


CMSC 351. Students are expected to be familiar with basic programming (loops, pointers, structures, recursion), discrete mathematics (proof by induction, sets, permutations, combinations, probability), calculus (manipulation of logarithms, differentiation, integration), data structures (lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, heaps), sorting algorithms (MergeSort, QuickSort, HeapSort), and graph algorithms (minimum spanning trees, Dijkstra's algorithm). If there is any material that seems unfamiliar, please see the instructor or a teaching assistant as soon as possible to discuss it.


Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 2:00–3:15 pm
Location: ESJ 1224


Andrew Childs (
Office hours: Tuesday 3:30–4:30 pm (AVW 3225), Wednesday 2:00–3:00 pm (ATL 3100F); also available by appointment

Teaching assistants

EmailOffice hours (in AVW 4101/4103)
Aditya Acharya Tuesday 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Katherine Chase Monday 3:00–4:00 pm
Vincent Hsiao Tuesday 1:00–2:00 pm, Thursday 1:00–2:00 pm
Aounon Kumar Monday 4:00–5:00 pm, Wednesday 3:00–4:00 pm
Pattara Sukprasert Monday 11:00 am–noon, Monday 2:00–3:00 pm


We will use Piazza for class announcements and discussion. You should sign yourself up for the course Piazza page as soon as possible. This is the best way to quickly get help from classmates, TAs, and the instructor. Instead of emailing questions to the teaching staff, please post questions on Piazza. Please do not use any other online forum for course discussion without prior permission of the instructor.


Primary: Jon Kleinberg and Éva Tardos, Algorithm Design, Pearson (2006).

Supplemental: Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald Rivest, and Clifford Stein, Introduction to Algorithms, MIT Press (1990).


Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Assignments 30% (lowest assignment grade will be dropped)
Midterm exam 30% (two exams, 15% each)
Final exam 40%


There will be approximately five homework assignments during the course. Assignments will be made available on Piazza and should be submitted to Gradescope. Please ensure that you can log in to Gradescope using your UMD email address and check that you are able to upload solutions by making a test submission well in advance of the first assignment deadline. You should submit completed assignments in PDF format, either as a typeset document or a clear scan of handwritten solutions, by the start of class on the due date. The system will not accept submissions after the deadline, and since solutions will be posted on the course website promptly, late assignments will not be accepted. However, the lowest assignment grade will be dropped.

Your answers to the assignment problems should be written neatly and concisely, and you should always aim to present the simplest possible solution. Your assignment grades will be based on both correctness and clarity. Graded assignments will be available on Gradescope, and grades will also be recorded there.

You are encouraged to discuss homework problems with your peers, with the TA, and with the course instructor. However, your solutions should be based on your own understanding and should be written independently. For each assignment, you must either include a list of students in the class with whom you discussed the problems, or else state that you did not discuss the assignment with your classmates.


The class will include two midterm exams and a comprehensive final exam. All three exams will be given in our regular lecture room (ESJ 1224). The midterm exams will be held on Tuesday, October 2 and Thursday, November 8 at the regular class time (2:00--3:15 pm). The final exam will be held on Saturday, December 15, from 10:30 am--12:30 pm (as scheduled by the registrar).


The following is list of topics is tentative and subject to change:

Course policies and academic accommodations

You should be familiar with the University of Maryland course policies.

As mentioned above, extensions to assignment due dates will not be granted for any reason, so that all students can have timely access to solutions. In circumstances that justify an excused absence, appropriate accommodations will be made, in accordance with the course-related policies described at the above link.

Any student eligible for and requesting reasonable academic accommodations due to a disability is asked to provide, to the instructor during office hours, a letter of accommodation from the Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) office within the first two weeks of the semester.

If you plan to observe any holidays during the semester that are not listed on the university calendar, please provide a list of these dates by the end of the first two weeks of the semester.

Course evaluations

Student feedback is an important part of evaluating instruction. The Department of Computer Science and its faculty take this feedback seriously, and appreciate your input. Toward the end of the semester, please go to to complete your evaluation.

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