CSE 34872 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 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM EST
Mailing List
Zoom Meeting
960 5120 0559
Slack Channel
GitHub Organization


Peter Bui (pbui@nd.edu)
Virtual Office Hours
T/TH 7:30 - 9:00 PM EST, and by appointment

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant
Michael Eisemann (meiseman@nd.edu)
Virtual Office Hours
T/TH 7:30 - 9:00 PM EST, and by appointment

Help Protocol

  1. Think
  2. Slack
  3. Think
  4. Email
  5. Think
Unit Date Topics Assignments
Orientation Mon 05/25 Orientation Reading 00
I/O, Sequence Containers Mon 06/01 I/O, Complexity, Coding Style, Linting Slides Slides Zoom Reading 01
Wed 06/03 Arrays, Lists, Stacks, Queues Slides Zoom
Sat 06/06 Programming Challenges Challenge 01 Challenge 02 Challenge 03
Searching, Sorting, Associative Containers Mon 06/08 Searching, Sorting Slides Zoom Reading 02
Wed 06/10 Sets, Maps Slides Zoom
Sat 06/13 Programming Challenges Challenge 04 Challenge 05 Challenge 06
Complete Search, Bit Manipulation, Greedy Algorithms Mon 06/15 Subsets, Permutations, Backtracking Slides Zoom Reading 03
Wed 06/17 Bit Manipulation, Greedy Algorithms Slides Slides Zoom
Sat 06/19 Programming Challenges Challenge 07 Challenge 08 Challenge 09
Dynamic Programming Mon 06/22 Memoization Slides Zoom Reading 04
Wed 06/24 Table Building Zoom
Sat 06/27 Programming Challenges Challenge 10 Challenge 11 Challenge 12
Trees Mon 06/29 Representation, Traversal Slides Zoom Reading 05
Wed 07/01 Divide and Conquer Zoom
07/04 Programming Challenges Challenge 13 Challenge 14 Challenge 15
Graphs I Mon 07/06 Representation, Traversal Slides Zoom Reading 06
Wed 07/08 Shortest Paths, Spanning Trees Zoom
07/11 Programming Challenges Challenge 16 Challenge 17 Challenge 18
Graphs II Mon 07/13 Topological Sorting Slides Zoom Reading 07
Wed 07/15 Paths, Flows and Cuts Slides Zoom
Sat 07/18 Programming Challenges Challenge 19 Challenge 20 Challenge 21
In-Class Contest Mon 07/20 Contest
Wed 07/22 Contest


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 6 × 4
Challenges Weekly programming challenges. 19 × 6
Style Programming style for each challenge. 18 × 2
External External programming contest. 2 × 30
Contests In-class programming contests. 36
Participation Regular class attendation and contribution to course community. 30
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 GitHub repository. Unless specified otherwise:

  • Readings are due at noon on the Monday of each week.

  • Challenges 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.