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
125 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

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Samuel Battalio (sbattali@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Ana Luisa Lamberto (alamber2@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Bailey Logan (blogan1@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Seun Odun-Ayo (dodunayo@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Richard Stefanik (rstefani@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Tina Wu (ywu6@nd.edu)

Help Protocol

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

Office Hours

Unit Date Topics Assignments
I/O Wed 08/28 Introduction, I/O Slides Slides Reading 00
Fri 08/30 Complexity, Coding Style Slides Slides
Sat 08/31 Programming Challenges Challenge 00
Sequence Containers Mon 09/02 Arrays, Lists Slides Reading 01
Wed 09/04 Stacks, Queues Slides
Fri 09/06 Debugging Slides
Sat 09/07 Programming Challenges Challenge 01 Challenge 02
Searching, Sorting Mon 09/09 Searching Slides Reading 02
Wed 09/11 Sorting Slides
Fri 09/13 Testing Slides
Sat 09/14 Programming Challenges Challenge 03 Challenge 04
Associative Containers Mon 09/16 Maps, Sets Slides Reading 03
Wed 09/18 Hash Tables
Fri 09/20 Profiling
Sat 09/21 Programming Challenges Challenge 05 Challenge 06
Complete Search Mon 09/23 Subsets and Permutations Slides Reading 04
Wed 09/25 Backtracking
Fri 09/27 Static Analysis Slides
Sat 09/28 Programming Challenges Challenge 07 Challenge 08
Greedy Algorithms Mon 09/30 Bit Manipulation Slides Reading 05
Wed 10/02 Optimization Slides
Fri 10/04 Documentation Slides
Sat 10/05 Programming Challenges Challenge 09 Challenge 10
Dynamic Programming Mon 10/07 Memoization Slides Reading 06
Wed 10/09 Table Building
Fri 10/11 Table Building
Sat 10/12 Programming Challenges Challenge 11 Challenge 12
Contest I Mon 10/14 Contest I
Wed 10/16 Contest I
Fri 10/18 Open Office Hours
Fall Break
Trees Mon 10/28 Representation Slides Reading 07
Wed 10/30 Traversal
Fri 11/01 Divide and Conquer
Sat 11/02 Programming Challenges Challenge 13 Challenge 14
Graphs I Mon 11/04 Representation Slides Reading 08
Wed 11/06 Traversal
Fri 11/07 Shortest Paths
Sat 11/08 Programming Challenges Challenge 15 Challenge 16
Graphs II Mon 11/10 Spanning Trees Slides Reading 09
Wed 11/12 Topological Sorting
Fri 11/14 Building, Packaging Slides
Sat 11/15 Programming Challenges Challenge 17 Challenge 18
Graphs III Mon 11/17 Paths Slides Reading 10
Wed 11/19 Flows and Cuts
Fri 11/21 Packaging Slides
Sat 11/22 Programming Challenges Challenge 19 Challenge 20
Number Theory Mon 11/24 Primes and Modular Arithmetic Slides Reading 11
Wed 11/26 Thanksgiving
Fri 11/28 Thanksgiving
Miscellaneous Mon 12/02 Brain Teasers Slides Challenge 21 Challenge 22
Wed 12/04 Graduate School Slides
Fri 12/06 Slacking and Hacking
Sat 12/07 Programming Challenges Challenge 23 Challenge 24
Contest II Mon 12/09 Contest II
Wed 12/11 Contest II
Reading Days


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 at noon on the Saturday of each week.

The External Contest submission is due at noon on Wednesday, December 11.



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.

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.

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 week late (except where noted) for each assignment submitted after the corresponding deadline.

Classroom Recording

This course will be recorded using Panopto. This system allows us to automatically record and distribute lectures to you in a secure environment. You can watch these recordings on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. In the course in Sakai, look for the "Panopto" tool on the left hand side of the course.

Because we will be recording in the classroom, your questions and comments may be recorded. Recordings typically only capture the front of the classroom, but if you have any concerns about your voice or image being recorded please speak to me to discuss your concerns. Except for faculty and staff who require access, no content will be shared with individuals outside of your course without your permission.

These recordings are jointly copyrighted by the University of Notre Dame and your instructor. Posting them to other websites (including YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, etc.) or elsewhere without express, written permission may result in disciplinary action and possible civil prosecution.

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.