CSE 30872 is an elective course in the Computer Science and Engineering program at the University of Notre Dame. This course encourages the development of practical programming and problem solving skills through extensive practice and guided learning. The bulk of the class revolves around solving brain-teaser and puzzle-type problems that often appear in programming contests, online challenges, and job interviews. Additionally, basic software engineering practices such as planning, debugging, testing, and source code management may be discussed.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Parse a variety of inputs and model problems.

  2. Utilize appropriate data structures to represent and solve problems.

  3. Implement common problem solving techniques and algorithms.

  4. Employ modern software development methods and tools.

  5. Debug and test code within an automated testing environment.

Class Information

M/W/F 10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
317 DeBartolo Hall
Mailing List (Class)
Mailing List (Staff)


Peter Bui (pbui@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M/W/F 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM, and by appointment
Office Location
350 Fitzpatrick Hall

Help Protocol

  1. Think
  2. Slack
  3. Think
  4. Email
  5. Think
  6. Office

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Natalie Alvarez (nalvare1@nd.edu)
Office Hours
F 11:20 AM - 12:20 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Alex Ayala (aayala4@nd.edu)
Office Hours
F 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Teaching Assistant
Jacob Beiter (jbeiter@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Teaching Assistant
Alison Lui (alui@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Teaching Assistant
Grace Milton (gmilton@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Teaching Assistant
Catalina Vajiac (cvajiac@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Teaching Assistant
Noah Yoshida (nyoshida@nd.edu)
Office Hours
T 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab
Unit Date Topics Assignment
I/O 08/22 Introduction, I/O Slides Slides Reading 00
08/24 Complexity, Coding Style Slides Slides Challenge 00
Sequence Containers 08/27 Arrays, Lists Slides Reading 01
08/29 Stacks, Queues Slides Challenge 01
08/31 Debugging Slides Challenge 02
Searching, Sorting 09/03 Searching Slides Reading 02
09/05 Engineering Industry Day Challenge 03
09/07 Sorting Slides Challenge 04
Associative Containers 09/10 Maps, Sets Slides Reading 03
09/12 Hash Tables Challenge 05
09/14 Testing / Profiling Slides Challenge 06
Complete Search 09/17 Subsets and Permutations Slides Reading 04
09/19 Backtracking Challenge 07
09/21 Static Analysis Slides Challenge 08
Greedy Algorithms 09/24 Optimization Slides Reading 05
09/26 Compression Challenge 09
09/28 Git Tricks Slides Challenge 10
Dynamic Programming 10/01 Memoization Slides Reading 06
10/03 Table Building Challenge 11
10/05 Dredd Slides Challenge 12
In-class Contest I 10/08 Contest I
10/10 Contest I
10/12 Contest I
Fall Break
Trees 10/22 Representation, Traversal Slides Reading 07
10/24 Divide and Conquer Challenge 13
10/26 Documentation Slides Challenge 14
Graphs I 10/29 Representation, Traversal Slides Reading 08
10/31 Shortest Paths Challenge 15
11/02 Building Slides Challenge 16
Graphs II 11/05 Spanning Trees Slides Reading 09
11/07 Topological Sorting Challenge 17
11/09 Packaging Slides Challenge 18
Graphs III 11/12 Paths Slides Reading 10
11/14 Flows and Cuts Challenge 19
11/16 Dredd Challenge 20
Number Theory 11/19 Primes and Modular Arithmetic Slides Reading 11
11/21 Thanksgiving Challenge 21
11/23 Thanksgiving
Miscellaneous 11/26 Brain Teasers Slides Challenge 22
11/28 Graduate School Slides Challenge 23
11/30 Slacking and Hacking Challenge 24
Final 12/03 Contest II
12/05 Contest II
Final 12/12


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 10 × 2
Challenges Weekly programming challenges. 24 × 6
Style Programming style for each challenge. 24 × 1
External External programming contest. 30
Contests In-class programming contests. 2 × 36
Participation Regular class attendation and contribution to course community. 10
Total 300


Grade Points Grade Points Grade Points
A 285-300 A- 270-284
B+ 260-269 B 250-259 B- 240-249
C+ 230-239 C 220-229 C- 210-219
D 195-209 F 0-194

Due Dates

All Readings and Challenges are to be submitted to your own private GitLab repository. Unless specified otherwise:

  • Readings are due before class on the Monday of each week.

  • Challenges are due before class on the Friday of each week. This is a soft deadline for the first attempt. Final submissions are due at noon on the Saturday of each week.



Students are expected to attend and contribute regularly in class. This means answering questions in class, participating in discussions, and helping other students.

Foreseeable absences should be discussed with the instructor ahead of time.

Academic Honesty

Any academic misconduct in this course is considered a serious offense, and the strongest possible academic penalties will be pursued for such behavior. Students may discuss high-level ideas with other students, but at the time of implementation (i.e. programming), each person must do his/her own work. Use of the Internet as a reference is allowed but directly copying code or other information is cheating. It is cheating to copy, to allow another person to copy, all or part of an exam or a assignment, or to fake program output. It is also a violation of the Undergraduate Academic Code of Honor to observe and then fail to report academic dishonesty. You are responsible for the security and integrity of your own work.

Late Work

In the case of a serious illness or other excused absence, as defined by university policies, coursework submissions will be accepted late by the same number of days as the excused absence.

Otherwise, there is a penalty of 25% per day late (except where noted). You may submit some parts of an assignment on time and some parts late. Each submission must clearly state which parts it contains; no part can be submitted more than once.

Students with Disabilities

Any student who has a documented disability and is registered with Disability Services should speak with the professor as soon as possible regarding accommodations. Students who are not registered should contact the Office of Disabilities.

CSE Guide to the Honor Code

For the assignments in this class, you may discuss with other students and consult printed and online resources. You may quote from books and online sources as long as you cite them properly. However, you may not look at another student's solution, and you may not look at solutions.

The following table summarizes how you may work with other students and use print/online sources:

Resources Solutions
Consulting Allowed Not Allowed
Copying Cite Not Allowed

See the CSE Guide to the Honor Code for definitions of the above terms.

If an instructor sees behavior that is, in his judgement, academically dishonest, he is required to file either an Honor Code Violation Report or a formal report to the College of Engineering Honesty Committee.


Online Challenges

  • UVa Online Judge This site is an online judge for programming challenges found in the book Programming Challenges
  • HackerRank This site is contains a variety of programming challenges similar to what is found in ACM programming contests. It also includes non-programming contest type problems as well and is a platform for evaluating and testing your programming skills.
  • LeetCode This is another site that contains a variety of programming challenges.
  • TopCoder This is another site that contains a variety of programming challenges. It also periodically runs contests and learning resources.
  • Project Euler This site is a large set of mathematical and programming problems designed to test your abilities and sharpen your skills. The problems make for good practice.
  • Google Code Jam This is global programming competition where programmers test their skills by solving multiple rounds of algorithmic puzzles.
  • Advent of Code This is an annual series of programming challenges.