22C:002:001 First year Seminar
Algorithms: From Euclid to the iPad
Fall 2011

2:00-2:50 Th B11 MLH

Instructor: Sriram V. Pemmaraju
101G MLH, sriram-pemmaraju@uiowa.edu, 319-353-2956
Office Hours: 2:30-3:30 W and by appointment
Course website: http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~sriram/2/fall11/
Department website: http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/

Algorithms: From Euclid to the iPad is a "first year seminar" that aims to introduce you to the intellectual life of the University by means of engaging a topic that is increasingly playing a central, though often invisible, role in our lives. Algorithms are "recipes" for solving computational problems and have been around since Euclid, who in 300 BCE described an algorithm for computing the greatest common divisor of a given pair of numbers. Now "algorithmic thinking" is viewed as the greatest contribution of the field of computer science to every day life. Algorithms are used wherever computers are; search engines, weather prediction, drug design, financial markets, supply-chain management and even "JEOPARDY!" are just a few examples from among many.

In this seminar, we will discuss algorithms for a variety of computational problems. Throughout the seminar we will focus on issues of correctness and efficiency of the algorithms we discuss. We will also try to understand inherent limits of the power of algorithms and why some problems seem so intractable. To place all of this in a larger context, we will also discuss popular perceptions of algorithms, as evidenced by articles in NYT, WSJ, New Scientist, etc.

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