This assignment achieves the Learning Outcomes of:
- Analyse general problem solving strategies and algorithmic paradigms, and apply them
to solving new problems;
- Prove correctness of programs, analyse their space and time complexities;
- Develop and implement algorithms to solve computational problems.
In addition, you will develop the following employability skills:
- Text comprehension
- Designing test cases
- Ability to follow speciﬁcations precisely
In order to be successful in this assessment, the following steps are provided as a suggestion.
This is an approach which will be useful to you both in future units, and in industry.
1. Read the assignment speciﬁcation as soon as possible and write out a list of questions
you have about it.
2. Clarify these questions. You can go to a consultation, talk to your tutor, discuss the tasks
with friends or ask in the forums.
3. As soon as possible, start thinking about the problems in the assignment.
It is strongly recommended that you do not write code until you have a solid feeling
for how the problem works and how you will solve it.
4. Writing down small examples and solving them by hand is an excellent tool for coming
to a better understanding of the problem.
As you are doing this, you will also get a feel for the kinds of edge cases your code
will have to deal with.
5. Write down a high level description of the algorithm you will use.
6. Determine the complexity of your algorithm idea, ensuring it meets the requirements.
1. Think of test cases that you can use to check if your algorithm works.
- Use the edge cases you found during the previous phase to inspire your test cases.
- It is also a good idea to generate large random test cases.
- Sharing test cases is allowed, as it is not helping solve the assignment.
2. Code up your algorithm, (remember decomposition and comments) and test it on the
tests you have thought of.
3. Try to break your code. Think of what kinds of inputs you could be presented with which
your code might not be able to handle.
- Large inputs
- Small inputs
- Inputs with strange properties
- What if everything is the same?
- What if everything is diﬀerent?
Documentation (3 marks)
For this assignment (and all assignments in this unit) you are required to document and com-
ment your code appropriately. This documentation/commenting must consist of (but is not
- For each function, high level description of that function. This should be a one or two
sentence explanation of what this function does. One good way of presenting this infor-
mation is by specifying what the input to the function is, and what output the function
produces (if appropriate)
- For each function, the Big-O complexity of that function, in terms of the input. Make
sure you specify what the variables involved in your complexity refer to. Remember that
the complexity of a function includes the complexity of any function calls it makes.
- Within functions, comments where appropriate. Generally speaking, you would comment
complicated lines of code (which you should try to minimise) or a large block of code
which performs a clear and distinct task (often blocks like this are good candidates to be
their own functions!).
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