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Preface

Before there were computers, there were algorithms. But now that there are computers, there are even more algorithms, and algorithms lie at the heart of computing.

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the modern study of computer algorithms. It presents many algorithms and covers them in considerable depth, yet makes their design and analysis accessible to all levels of readers. We have tried to keep explanations elementary without sacriﬁcing depth of coverage or mathematical rigor.

Each chapter presents an algorithm, a design technique, an application area, or a related topic. Algorithms are described in English and in a pseudocode designed to be readable by anyone who has done a little programming. The book contains 244 ﬁgures — many with multiple parts — illustrating how the algorithms work. Since we emphasize efﬁciency as a design criterion, we include careful analyses of the running times of all our algorithms.

The text is intended primarily for use in undergraduate or graduate courses in algorithms or data structures. Because it discusses engineering issues in algorithm design, as well as mathematical aspects, it is equally well suited for self-study by technical professionals.

In this, the third edition, we have once again updated the entire book. The changes cover a broad spectrum, including new chapters, revised pseudocode, and a more active writing style.

To the teacher We have designed this book to be both versatile and complete. You should ﬁnd it useful for a variety of courses, from an undergraduate course in data structures up through a graduate course in algorithms. Because we have provided considerably more material than can ﬁt in a typical one-term course, you can consider this book to be a “buffet” or “smorgasbord” from which you can pick and choose the material that best supports the course you wish to teach.xiv Preface You should ﬁnd it easy to organize your course around just the chapters you need. We have made chapters relatively self-contained, so that you need not worry about an unexpected and unnecessary dependence of one chapter on another. Each chapter presents the easier material ﬁrst and the more difﬁcult material later, with section boundaries marking natural stopping points. In an undergraduate course, you might use only the earlier sections from a chapter; in a graduate course, you might cover the entire chapter.

We have included 957 exercises and 158 problems. Each section ends with exercises, and each chapter ends with problems. The exercises are generally short questions that test basic mastery of the material. Some are simple self-check thought exercises, whereas others are more substantial and are suitable as assigned homework. The problems are more elaborate case studies that often introduce new material; they often consist of several questions that lead the student through the steps required to arrive at a solution.

Departing from our practice in previous editions of this book, we have made publicly available solutions to some, but by no means all, of the problems and exercises. Our Web site, http://mitpress.mit.edu/algorithms/, links to these solutions.

You will want to check this site to make sure that it does not contain the solution to an exercise or problem that you plan to assign. We expect the set of solutions that we post to grow slowly over time, so you will need to check it each time you teach the course.

We have starred (?)

Before there were computers, there were algorithms. But now that there are computers, there are even more algorithms, and algorithms lie at the heart of computing.

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the modern study of computer algorithms. It presents many algorithms and covers them in considerable depth, yet makes their design and analysis accessible to all levels of readers. We have tried to keep explanations elementary without sacriﬁcing depth of coverage or mathematical rigor.

Each chapter presents an algorithm, a design technique, an application area, or a related topic. Algorithms are described in English and in a pseudocode designed to be readable by anyone who has done a little programming. The book contains 244 ﬁgures — many with multiple parts — illustrating how the algorithms work. Since we emphasize efﬁciency as a design criterion, we include careful analyses of the running times of all our algorithms.

The text is intended primarily for use in undergraduate or graduate courses in algorithms or data structures. Because it discusses engineering issues in algorithm design, as well as mathematical aspects, it is equally well suited for self-study by technical professionals.

In this, the third edition, we have once again updated the entire book. The changes cover a broad spectrum, including new chapters, revised pseudocode, and a more active writing style.

To the teacher We have designed this book to be both versatile and complete. You should ﬁnd it useful for a variety of courses, from an undergraduate course in data structures up through a graduate course in algorithms. Because we have provided considerably more material than can ﬁt in a typical one-term course, you can consider this book to be a “buffet” or “smorgasbord” from which you can pick and choose the material that best supports the course you wish to teach.xiv Preface You should ﬁnd it easy to organize your course around just the chapters you need. We have made chapters relatively self-contained, so that you need not worry about an unexpected and unnecessary dependence of one chapter on another. Each chapter presents the easier material ﬁrst and the more difﬁcult material later, with section boundaries marking natural stopping points. In an undergraduate course, you might use only the earlier sections from a chapter; in a graduate course, you might cover the entire chapter.

We have included 957 exercises and 158 problems. Each section ends with exercises, and each chapter ends with problems. The exercises are generally short questions that test basic mastery of the material. Some are simple self-check thought exercises, whereas others are more substantial and are suitable as assigned homework. The problems are more elaborate case studies that often introduce new material; they often consist of several questions that lead the student through the steps required to arrive at a solution.

Departing from our practice in previous editions of this book, we have made publicly available solutions to some, but by no means all, of the problems and exercises. Our Web site, http://mitpress.mit.edu/algorithms/, links to these solutions.

You will want to check this site to make sure that it does not contain the solution to an exercise or problem that you plan to assign. We expect the set of solutions that we post to grow slowly over time, so you will need to check it each time you teach the course.

We have starred (?)

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