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Algorithmics for Hard Problems

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I just finished up the Spring semester. Took a class called "Design and Analysis of Algorithms". [Got an "A", yeah!] Great course, great instructor, but the book, "Algorithmics for Hard Problems" another kettle of fish.

This is an upper level graduate course in Computer Science within the Computational Theory track at Johns Hopkins University. So lots and lots of math is to be expected. Lots of mindfuckery to ensue, etc... So it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the text will be verbose. This book walked right past verbose and into the netherland.

Allow me to sum up this book in one sentence: the author ran out of math symbols halfway through chapter 2 and started making new ones up.

You'll be in Chapter 5 going, what's the scripty "M" mean again? Where did he define this one term?

It's not a bad textbook though. It has a wealth of information in it with pictures (pictures!), but one must discern the author's meaning, interpret the symbols, and then attempt to digest the information gleaned. It was not uncommon for me to read a couple pages, put the book down, and say, "I have absolutely no idea what I just read".

In summary, as a companion book to a class where you have a guide [aka a professor] it's decent, but do not pick this book up on a whim thinking you'll brush up and add to your repertoire of algorithm skills. Well, unless you're into personal pain and which case I think you might be in the wrong type of book store.

2 Comments On This Entry

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cfoley Icon

19 May 2012 - 03:48 PM
If you want to brush up and add to your repertoire of algorithm skills without the pain, check out Skiena.

Crockeo Icon

21 May 2012 - 10:59 AM
Sounds like a fantastic book.

Maybe I'll just use it to brush up on my algorithm skills...
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