Course Syllabus



Course Information

CS 3149 Competitive Learning in Computer Science




Professor Contact Information

Ivor Page, ECS 4.410, [email protected]

Office Hours:




Course Pre-requisites, Co-requisites, and/or Other Restrictions

CS 2336 and CS 3305





Course Description

This is a one-hour course that can be repeated twice for a total of three credit hours. We will learn how to solve programming problems of the kind that occur in ACM ICPC programming contests:

We will start with problems requiring only basic programming techniques without need of complex algorithms and build our techniques using problems that require numerical techniques, sorting, graph traversals, shortest paths, backtracking, network flow, geometric techniques, dynamic programming and other algorithmic techniques. The idea is that, “You are only as good as the set of problems that you have solved.” We will use the online judge at:


We will study problems and their solutions together in class and then you will be assigned weekly problems according to your skill level and experience. All students will have access to each other’s working solutions so that each of you can all build a portfolio of working solutions. During the course, all students must participate in at least two UTD programming contests. These are usually held on Saturdays, every couple of weeks, from 1-6pm.




Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Ability to analyze and understand problems and use a subset of the following techniques, depending on the each student’s ability:

  1. Sorting
  2. String processing, searching, comparison
  3. Arithmetic, Integers, reals, root finding, huge numbers, factorials, Fibonacci numbers
  4. Combinatorics, counting sequences, binomial coefficients, permutations, combinations
  5. Number theory, primes, GCD, LCM, modular arithmetic
  6. Backtracking, maze running, constructing all permutations, all subsets
  7. Graph traversal, BFS, DFS, finding cycles, bi-coloring, shortest paths, bipartite matching
  8. Greedy algorithms, dynamic programming,
  9. Geometric problems and computational geometry, lines, line segments, line segment intersections, polygon area, Pick’s theorem, point containment in a polygon, convex hulls, smallest containing circle, closest point to a circle, line segment, etc. closest pair.



Required Textbooks and Materials:


Steven S. Skiena and Riguel A. Revilla, Programming Challenges, Springer.

ISBN 978-0-387-00163-8


Suggested Additional Course Materials


See audio files and notes on the website for the textbook (click on “Audio lectures”):


Any good book on Java 1.6 and any good data structures text. For most students, Weiss, Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis in Java, is a good start (used in CS 3345). For the most advanced students, the following is the best book (known as CRLS.) It’s not an easy read: Cormen, Rivest, Leiserson, Stein, Introduction to Algorithms, 2ND, Edition (used in CS 4349 and CS 6363). Buy it online for under $30.





Assignments & Academic Calendar

(Topics, Reading Assignments, Due Dates, Exam Dates)

We will not keep to the following schedule. It’s just a guide.

Week 1: Preparing solutions for the online judge, basic Java stuff, our fist problem.

Week 2: Simple integer problems and direct programming techniques.

Week 3: Dynamic Programming techniques.

Week 4: Stacks, queues, data dictionaries, sets, and Java’s collections classes.

Week 5,6: String processing, pagination, searching, matching, etc.

Week 7: Sorting algorithms and Java’s sort function

Week 8: Arithmetic, bases, conversion, rational numbers, real numbers, root finding, Java’s BigInteger package.

Week 9: Combinatorics, sequences and series, counting, binomial coefficients.

Week 10: Number Theory, primes, counting primes, GCD, LCM.

Week 11: Backtracking, all subsets, all permutations.

Week 12: Graphs, traversals, DFS, BFS, finding paths, finding cycles.

Week 13,14: Graph Algorithms, shortest path algorithms, network flow, bipartite matching.

Week15: Geometric problems, lines, polygons, circles, intersections, point containment, convex hulls. Areas, Pick’s theorem.

Test Dates:

No tests, but weekly projects.



Grading Policy

(including percentages for assignments, grade scale, etc.)

Each student will attempt to solve at least 8 problems assigned in class. Each student will also take part in at least two UTD programming contests. Grading will be liberal based mainly of effort. The number of problems solved and number of submissions will be used amongst other factors.



Course & Instructor Policies

(make-up exams, extra credit, late work, special assignments, class attendance, classroom citizenship, etc.)

No exams, so no makeup exams.  Assignments must be submitted on time. Lateness penalty will be 5% per day.




Field Trip Policies

Off-campus Instruction and Course Activities


Off-campus, out-of-state, and foreign instruction and activities are subject to state law and University policies and procedures regarding travel and risk-related activities.  Information regarding these rules and regulations may be found at the website address  Additional information is available from the office of the school dean.  Below is a description of any travel and/or risk-related activity associated with this course.





Student Conduct & Discipline


The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Dallas have rules and regulations for the orderly and efficient conduct of their business.  It is the responsibility of each student and each student organization to be knowledgeable about the rules and regulations which govern student conduct and activities.  General information on student conduct and discipline is contained in the UTD publication, A to Z Guide, which is provided to all registered students each academic year.


The University of Texas at Dallas administers student discipline within the procedures of recognized and established due process.  Procedures are defined and described in the Rules and Regulations, Board of Regents, The University of Texas System, Part 1, Chapter VI, Section 3, and in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures.  Copies of these rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the Dean of Students, where staff members are available to assist students in interpreting the rules and regulations (SU 1.602, 972/883-6391).


A student at the university neither loses the rights nor escapes the responsibilities of citizenship.  He or she is expected to obey federal, state, and local laws as well as the Regents’ Rules, university regulations, and administrative rules.  Students are subject to discipline for violating the standards of conduct whether such conduct takes place on or off campus, or whether civil or criminal penalties are also imposed for such conduct.


Academic Integrity


The faculty expects from its students a high level of responsibility and academic honesty.  Because the value of an academic degree depends upon the absolute integrity of the work done by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student demonstrate a high standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work.


Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, statements, acts or omissions related to applications for enrollment or the award of a degree, and/or the submission as one’s own work or material that is not one’s own.  As a general rule, scholastic dishonesty involves one of the following acts:  cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or falsifying academic records.  Students suspected of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary proceedings.


Plagiarism, especially from the web, from portions of papers for other classes, and from any other source is unacceptable and will be dealt with under the university’s policy on plagiarism (see general catalog for details).  This course will use the resources of, which searches the web for possible plagiarism and is over 90% effective.


Email Use

The University of Texas at Dallas recognizes the value and efficiency of communication between faculty/staff and students through electronic mail. At the same time, email raises some issues concerning security and the identity of each individual in an email exchange.  The university encourages all official student email correspondence be sent only to a student’s U.T. Dallas email address and that faculty and staff consider email from students official only if it originates from a UTD student account. This allows the university to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of all individual corresponding and the security of the transmitted information.  UTD furnishes each student with a free email account that is to be used in all communication with university personnel. The Department of Information Resources at U.T. Dallas provides a method for students to have their U.T. Dallas mail forwarded to other accounts.

Withdrawal from Class


The administration of this institution has set deadlines for withdrawal of any college-level courses. These dates and times are published in that semester's course catalog. Administration procedures must be followed. It is the student's responsibility to handle withdrawal requirements from any class. In other words, I cannot drop or withdraw any student. You must do the proper paperwork to ensure that you will not receive a final grade of "F" in a course if you choose not to attend the class once you are enrolled.


Student Grievance Procedures


Procedures for student grievances are found in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities, of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures.


In attempting to resolve any student grievance regarding grades, evaluations, or other fulfillments of academic responsibility, it is the obligation of the student first to make a serious effort to resolve the matter with the instructor, supervisor, administrator, or committee with whom the grievance originates (hereafter called “the respondent”).  Individual faculty members retain primary responsibility for assigning grades and evaluations.  If the matter cannot be resolved at that level, the grievance must be submitted in writing to the respondent with a copy of the respondent’s School Dean.  If the matter is not resolved by the written response provided by the respondent, the student may submit a written appeal to the School Dean.  If the grievance is not resolved by the School Dean’s decision, the student may make a written appeal to the Dean of Graduate or Undergraduate Education, and the deal will appoint and convene an Academic Appeals Panel.  The decision of the Academic Appeals Panel is final.  The results of the academic appeals process will be distributed to all involved parties.


Copies of these rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the Dean of Students, where staff members are available to assist students in interpreting the rules and regulations.


Incomplete Grade Policy


As per university policy, incomplete grades will be granted only for work unavoidably missed at the semester’s end and only if 70% of the course work has been completed.  An incomplete grade must be resolved within eight (8) weeks from the first day of the subsequent long semester.  If the required work to complete the course and to remove the incomplete grade is not submitted by the specified deadline, the incomplete grade is changed automatically to a grade of F.


Disability Services


The goal of Disability Services is to provide students with disabilities educational opportunities equal to those of their non-disabled peers.  Disability Services is located in room 1.610 in the Student Union.  Office hours are Monday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


The contact information for the Office of Disability Services is:

The University of Texas at Dallas, SU 22

PO Box 830688

Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

(972) 883-2098 (voice or TTY)


Essentially, the law requires that colleges and universities make those reasonable adjustments necessary to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.  For example, it may be necessary to remove classroom prohibitions against tape recorders or animals (in the case of dog guides) for students who are blind.  Occasionally an assignment requirement may be substituted (for example, a research paper versus an oral presentation for a student who is hearing impaired).  Classes enrolled students with mobility impairments may have to be rescheduled in accessible facilities.  The college or university may need to provide special services such as registration, note-taking, or mobility assistance.


It is the student’s responsibility to notify his or her professors of the need for such an accommodation.  Disability Services provides students with letters to present to faculty members to verify that the student has a disability and needs accommodations.  Individuals requiring special accommodation should contact the professor after class or during office hours.


Religious Holy Days

The University of Texas at Dallas will excuse a student from class or other required activities for the travel to and observance of a religious holy day for a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property tax under Section 11.20, Tax Code, Texas Code Annotated.

The student is encouraged to notify the instructor or activity sponsor as soon as possible regarding the absence, preferably in advance of the assignment.  The student, so excused, will be allowed to take the exam or complete the assignment within a reasonable time after the absence: a period equal to the length of the absence, up to a maximum of one week. A student who notifies the instructor and completes any missed exam or assignment may not be penalized for the absence. A student who fails to complete the exam or assignment within the prescribed period may receive a failing grade for that exam or assignment.

If a student or an instructor disagrees about the nature of the absence [i.e., for the purpose of observing a religious holy day] or if there is similar disagreement about whether the student has been given a reasonable time to complete any missed assignments or examinations, either the student or the instructor may request a ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution, or his or her designee. The chief executive officer or designee must take into account the legislative intent of TEC 51.911(b), and the student and instructor will abide by the decision of the chief executive officer or designee.

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Professor.