# What is Algorithmic Problem Solving ?

1. Jun 1, 2009

### yUNeeC

What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Hi all,

I'm trying to get a head start on next semester's difficult classes and am kind of confused about what a certain class entails.

I have a Computer Science course that is part of the core for my math major:

"CSCI 2310, 2311. Algorithmic Problem Solving and Programming Laboratory (4,0) - Design of algorithms and their implementation as programs in high-level language such as Java."

I was wandering if anyone here had any idea as to what exactly this entails, as well as what I should study in preparation?

Thanks for any help.

2. Jun 1, 2009

### Noo

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

I offer no insights. Though, i do recall this;

"Introduction To Algorithms" MIT lecture series (Very comp-sci based, apparently). Could give you an idea of what you're in for.

P.S. I did watch the first lecture at some point, and remember the guy indicating that the first half of the semester would be spent on analysing the theory of Algorithms and such, before moving on to designing algorithms in the second half of the semester.

3. Jun 1, 2009

### Staff: Mentor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

I think you should ask your instructor, or someone else at your university who is familiar with this course.

Based on my experience, this could mean at least two different kinds of courses:

1. A more or less standard introductory programming course in Java. The description is worded so that the instructor can use a different language if he wants, without having to get it approved by a faculty or university administrative committee, and changing the official course description.

2. A more theoretical course in algorithm design using various modeling techniques such as flowcharts or UML, in which the students can implement the algorithms in whatever programming language they happen to be familiar with. This obviously assumes you already know the basics of some programming language such as C, C++, Java, Fortan, ...

3. ???

4. Jun 1, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

It could be an introductory course, the course typically called "data structures" and which is a continuation of the introductory course, or the in-major algorithms course. It actually sort of sounds like the latter... that's what it sounds the most like at my school, except we did very little programming and treated it more like a regular math class.

5. Jun 1, 2009

### Staff: Mentor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Are you at East Carolina University? Their catalog has a course with that number, name and description. Based on its position in the computer science degree requirements, it's almost certainly the following:

It might use something other than Java, so if you want to start studying over the summer, you'd better contact the department or instructor and make sure of which language they're going to use.

6. Jun 1, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Yeah, I'm at ECU. Interesting...I just don't understand why part of the core of the BS degree in math would be programming...but I guess that's just my luck.

Thanks for all of the help guys.

7. Jun 1, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

"I just don't understand why part of the core of the BS degree in math would be programming"

There's probably a CS major somewhere wondering why Calculus is part of the CS curriculum...

8. Jun 1, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Well, math is fundamental to pretty much everything. Computer science, at least in my opinion, is not.

9. Jun 1, 2009

### mXSCNT

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Theoretical CS is almost like a branch of math. If indeed this course is an introduction to algorithms course like the one I took, it is a mathematically based subject.

On the other hand if it's a less-theoretical programming course, well, mathematicians do need to know how to program.

10. Jun 1, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Very true. And I'm starting to take interest in robotics...so I suppose if it is programming oriented I should make the most of it.

11. Jun 1, 2009

### Phrak

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

what, in coding, is not an algorithm?

12. Jun 1, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

"what, in coding, is not an algorithm?"

It depends on your definition of "algorithm".

13. Jun 1, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

"Well, math is fundamental to pretty much everything. Computer science, at least in my opinion, is not."

I didn't say a CS major didn't need math. I can't think of any concrete way in which calculus aids the study of (basic, core, undergraduate) computer science. Perhaps you can reference the following: http://www.acm.org//education/curricula/ComputerScience2008.pdf , find the topics where 2 to 3 semesters of calculus are required to understand 10% of the material in the course, and count how many course hours such courses total to.

If your argument is that calculus helps CS majors mature and think logically, ditto for programming.

If your argument is that calculus can be used on problems in the real world to which CS is applied, ditto for programming to mathematics.

I can't think of an argument you could make that I couldn't turn on its head.

14. Jun 2, 2009

### Phrak

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Is it something such as within electrical engineering where a 'bus' means "something that has the look-and-feel of what other people have called a bus."? Everything that takes a bunch of bits and deterministically produces another set of bits is an algorithm. XOR is an algorithm.

15. Jun 2, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

"Everything that takes a bunch of bits and deterministically produces another set of bits is an algorithm. XOR is an algorithm."

If that's your definition of algorithm, it's almost trivial to write a fully-functioning program which contains no algorithms.

16. Jun 2, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Math = natural science
CS ≠ natural science

Math is more fundamental to logical development than is computer science. Therefore, I would venture to say that a CS major would benefit from math more than a pure mathematician would benefit from CS.

Edit: You seem to be misunderstanding what I was stating. I was wandering why a CS course was part of the CORE for a math degree at my school...not why it was required. For instance, Calculus I-III and Differential Equations are not considered part of the core for my physics major...they are just requisites that don't count toward my major GPA. The "that's my luck" refers to the CS course being in the core, and consequently counting towards my major GPA for math.

Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
17. Jun 2, 2009

### AUMathTutor

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

"CS ≠ natural science"
Would you care to back that up?

"Math is more fundamental to logical development than is computer science."
Differences of opinion are what makes the world a wonderful place, I guess.

That's the pot calling the kettle black.

CS majors at my school take a discrete math class in the math department and it's part of the core. While it should be required of CS majors, why make it a core class? Most of the stuff is rehashed in the CS courses anyway.

So you're just complaining about the politics of what counts towards your major GPA at your school? I guess I thought you were questioning the merit of a mathematician knowing how to program.

I think any college that doesn't make math majors learn how to program is doing their students a great disservice. Ditto for CS majors not learning calculus. I think it's really more your prejudices than any reasoned opinion that leads to your position.

You can be a great computer scientist without knowing calculus, and you can be a great mathematician without knowing how to program. But why would you want to do that? CS and Math majors should have a fair amount of interest in both, as they are pretty fundamental to what constitutes an educated scientist / mathematician / engineer.

18. Jun 2, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

You have got to be kidding me.

CS is not a natural science. Sure, a good amount of logic is involved, but it is logic geared towards implementing a man-made system (hence it not being natural.) Mathematics is a pure language used to explain natural phenomena, while computer science has a heavily invented component.

I've never said programming is not important. Stop inventing arguments...and quit being so fricken arrogant. Just because an opinion differs from your own doesn't make it the byproduct of prejudices.

I've even agreed that programming is an important thing to know, yet because I don't think it should be the only non-pure math course that is considered a part of my major-GPA I have unfounded bias? Nice.

19. Jun 2, 2009

### mXSCNT

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Neither mathematics nor computer science is a natural science, because they do not study the physical world.

20. Jun 2, 2009

### yUNeeC

Re: What is "Algorithmic Problem Solving"?

Mathematics can be used to study the natural world. I suppose this would be under the "physics" category...but it is mathematics nonetheless. Also, I suppose "natural mathematics" has realms outside of physics (modeling, etc.)