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 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
131 Debart
Zoom Meeting
943 9406 5355
Mailing List (Class)
Mailing List (Staff)


William Theisen (wtheisen@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M/T/W/R 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, and F 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM, and by appointment
Office Location
150A CSE Commons (Fitz)

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Mark Van Kirk (mvankir2@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Sofia Lombardo (slombard@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Katherine Morales (kmorale3@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Mark Rumsey (mrumsey@nd.edu)
Teaching Assistant
Eduardo Yepiz (eyepiz@nd.edu)

Help Protocol

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

Office Hours

Online Office Hours

Online office hours for the teaching assistants will take place in Zoom Meeting 945 5002 8052. Please use the main session for general questions. If you have an individual question, then request a private breakout room with the teaching assistant. If you need more individualized attention, please contact the instructor to schedule an appointment.
Unit Date Topics Assignments
I/O Wed 08/23 Syllabus, I/O Slides Slides Panopto Reading 00
Fri 08/25 Complexity, Coding Style Slides Slides Panopto
Sat 08/26 Programming Challenges Challenge 00
Unit 01: Data Structures and Algorithms
Sequence Containers Mon 08/28 Arrays, Lists Slides Panopto Reading 01
Wed 08/30 Stacks, Queues Slides Panopto
Fri 09/01 Debugging Slides Panopto
Sat 09/02 Programming Challenges Challenge 01 Challenge 02
Searching, Sorting Mon 09/04 Searching Slides Panopto Reading 02
Wed 09/06 Sorting Slides Panopto
Fri 09/18 Testing Slides Panopto
Sat 09/09 Programming Challenges Challenge 03 Challenge 04
Associative Containers Mon 09/11 Maps, Sets Slides Panopto Reading 03
Wed 09/13 Memoization, Profiling Slides Panopto
Fri 09/15 History Slides Panopto
Sat 09/16 Programming Challenges Challenge 05 Challenge 06
Complete Search Mon 09/18 Subsets Slides Panopto Reading 04
Wed 09/20 Permutations, Backtracking Panopto
Fri 09/22 Static Analysis Slides Panopto
Sat 09/23 Programming Challenges Challenge 07 Challenge 08
Bit Manipulation, Greedy Algorithms Mon 09/25 Bit Manipulation Slides Panopto Reading 05
Wed 09/27 Greedy Algorithms Slides Panopto
Fri 09/29 Documentation Slides Panopto
Sat 09/30 Programming Challenges Challenge 09 Challenge 10
Dynamic Programming Mon 10/02 Memoization (Again) Slides Panopto Reading 06
Wed 10/04 Table Building Panopto
Fri 10/06 Table Building
Sat 10/07 Programming Challenges Challenge 11 Challenge 12
Contest I Mon 10/09 Contest I
Wed 10/11 Contest I
Fri 10/13 Contest I
Fall Break
Unit 02: Trees and Graphs
Trees Mon 10/23 Representation Slides Panopto Reading 07
Wed 10/25 Traversal Panopto
Fri 10/27 Divide and Conquer
Sat 10/28 Programming Challenges Challenge 13 Challenge 14
Graphs I Mon 10/30 Representation Slides Panopto Reading 08
Wed 11/01 Traversal Panopto
Fri 11/03 Shortest Paths Panopto
Sat 11/04 Programming Challenges Challenge 15 Challenge 16
Graphs II Mon 11/06 Spanning Trees Slides Panopto Reading 09
Wed 11/08 Topological Sorting Panopto
Fri 11/10 Office Hours
Sat 11/11 Programming Challenges Challenge 17 Challenge 18
Graphs III Mon 11/13 Paths Slides Panopto Reading 10
Wed 11/15 Flows and Cuts Panopto
Fri 11/17 Office Hours
Sat 11/18 Programming Challenges Challenge 19 Challenge 20
Number Theory Mon 11/20 Primes and Modular Arithmetic Slides Panopto Reading 11
Wed 11/22 Thanksgiving
Fri 11/24 Thanksgiving
Miscellaneous Mon 11/27 Negotiation, Contracts, Promotion, Mobility Slides
Wed 11/29 Graduate School Slides
Fri 11/31 Slacking and Hacking
Sat 12/02 Programming Challenges Challenge 21 Challenge 22 Challenge 23
Contest II Mon 12/04 Contest II
Wed 12/06 Contest II


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 11 × 3
Challenges Weekly programming challenges. 23 × 7
Externals External programming contest. 2 × 17
Contests In-class programming contests. 2 × 36
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 before class on the Monday of each week.

  • Challenges are due at noon on the Saturday of each week.

The External Contest submissions are due at noon on Wednesday, December 7.



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.


Recalling one of the tenets of the Hacker Ethic:

Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, sex, or position.

Students are expected to be respectful of their fellow classmates and the instructional staff.

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 an automatic 25% late penalty for assignments turned in 12 hours pass the specified deadline.

Classroom Recording

This course will be recorded using Zoom and 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 copy any significant portions of other's solutions. Furthermore, you may not utilize AI powered tools such as Co-Pilot or Tabnine for any of your programming assignments.

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

Resources Solutions AI Tools
Consulting Allowed Not Allowed Not Allowed
Copying Cite Not Allowed 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 judgment, 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.