GCO2817 Data structures and algorithms - Semester 2 , 2006 unit guide

Semester 2, 2006

Chief Examiner

Douglas Thomson


Gippsland : Douglas Thomson


Algorithm analysis. Application and implementation of some common data structures: stacks, queues, lists, priority queues, tables, sets and collections. Data representations including: arrays, linked lists, heaps, trees (including balanced trees) and hashing. Design of application programs making use of common data structures. Design and implementation of new data structures. Study of advanced algorithms in areas such as: graph theory, pattern searching and data compression. Access to the University's computer systems through an Internet service provider is compulsory for off-campus students.


1. Ability to analyse simple algorithms to work out an order of magnitude estimate of running time and space.

2. Familiarity with some of the most common data structures:

  • stacks
  • queues
  • lists
  • priority queues
  • tables
  • sets
  • collections

3. Ability to implement these data structures using various common data representations:

  • arrays
  • linked lists
  • heaps
  • trees (including balanced trees)
  • hashing

4. Ability to evaluate which implementation would be most appropriate for a given data structure and application.

5. Ability to apply the same principles used in implementing the common data structures to implement other data structures.

6. Ability to design and implement new data structures.

7. Understanding of some more advanced algorithms in areas such as:

  • graph theory (shortest path etc)
  • pattern searching
  • data compression
  • (precise selection of advanced algorithms will vary from year to year)

8. Ability to design new algorithms to solve new problems.

9. Enjoyment of programming as an intellectual exercise.

10. Appreciation of the elegance of certain data structures and algorithms as a form of art.

11. Interest in understanding how data structures and algorithms are implemented rather than merely using other people's implementations (and consequently a preference for open source software).

12. Ability to design new application programs that make use of introduced data structures, including the ability to evaluate which data structures would be most appropriate.


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed GCO1812 or equivalent.

Unit relationships

GCO2817 is an elective unit in the BIT. You may not study this unit and CSE2304 in your degree.

Texts and software

Required text(s)

Mark Allen Weiss, Data Structures & Problem Solving using Java, 3rd Edition, Addison Wesley, 2005, ISBN: 0321312554.

Textbook availability

Text books are available from the Monash University Bookshop. Availability from other suppliers cannot be assured. The Bookshop orders texts in specifically for this unit. You are advised to purchase your text book early.

Software requirements

Java SE JDK version 1.5 (also known as version 5) or later.

Software may be:

  • downloaded from http://java.sun.com

Hardware requirements

Students studying off-campus are required to have the minimum system configuration specified by the faculty as a condition of accepting admission, and regular Internet access. On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations, may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 10 hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Recommended reading

William H. Ford and William R. Topp, Data Structures with Java, 2005, Pearson Education International, ISBN 0131293370

Lafore, R, Data Structures & Algorithms in Java, 2nd edition, 2002, SAMS, ISBN 0-672-32453-9

Robert Sedgewick and Michael Schidlowsky, Algorithms in Java, 3rd edition (Parts 1-4), Addison Wesley, 2002, ISBN: 0201361205.

Mitchell Waite and Robert Lafore, Data Structures & Algorithms in Java, Waite Group Press, 1998, ISBN: 1571690956.

Donald Ervin Knuth, Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms, 3rd edition, Addison Wesley, 1997, ISBN: 0201896834.

Donald Ervin Knuth, Art of Computer Programming, Volume 3: Sorting and Searching, 2nd edition, Addison Wesley, 1998, ISBN: 0201896850.

Library access

You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Study resources

Study resources for GCO2817 are:

A printed Unit Book containing 12 study guides.

This Unit Information outlining the administrative information for the unit.

A CD-ROM (possibly sent at the start of the year if you were enrolled in a first semester unit that required it) with software required for all units (this includes all the software required to complete this unit).

A unit web page where lecture slides, weekly tutorial requirements, assignment specifications, sample solutions and supplementary material will be posted.

Newsgroups/discussion groups that can be linked to from the Unit Homepage.

Unit website


Structure and organisation

Week Topics Study Guide References/Readings Key Dates
1 Algorithm Analysis 1 Textbook chapters 5, 8
2 ArrayList 2 Textbook chapter 15
3 Stacks and Queues 3 Textbook chapter 16
4 Linked Lists 4 Textbook chapter 17
5 General Trees 5 Textbook chapter 18
6 Binary Search Trees 6 Textbook chapter 19
7 Hashing 7 Textbook chapter 20 A1 due August 28
8 Priority Queues and Heaps 8 Textbook chapter 21
9 Graphs 9 Textbook chapter 14
10 Compression 10 Textbook chapter 12
Non teaching week
11 Mystery topic 11 see unit web site A2 due October 2
12 Sample exam 12
13 Revision


The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


Assessment weighting

Assessment for the unit consists of two assignments with a weighting of 40% and an examination with a weighting of 60%. Read this section VERY carefully.

Assessment Policy

To pass this unit you must:

  • attempt the assignments and the examination
  • score at least 50% of the possible marks for the unit
  • achieve no less than 40% of the total available marks for the assignments overall, and no less than 40% of the total available marks for the examination

Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

  • final score = min(exam+10, assign+10, 0.6*exam + 0.4*assign)

where exam is your percentage mark in the exam and assign is your weighted average assignment mark (again expressed as a percentage).

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Due Date Weighting
Assignment 1 August 28 20%
Assignment 2 October 2 20 %
Exam Exam period (S2/06) starts on 23/10/06 60 %

Assignment specifications will be made available on the FIT2009 unit web site..

Assignment Submission

Assignments will be submitted electronically via the WebFace assignment submission system (http://wfsubmit.gscit.monash.edu.au).

Extensions and late submissions

Late submission of assignments

Assignments received after the due date without excuse will be subject to a penalty of 0.6% of the raw mark per hour. Note that this implies assignments received more than 7 days after the due date will score 0.

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

Unpredictable factors that interfere with time you might reasonably have expected to have had available for study will be considered (accidents, illness, illness of a dependent, unexpected compulsory overtime work and so on).

Requests for extensions should be made by email to the unit lecturer at least two days before the due date (unless the nature of the problem has made this impossible). You may be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary.

Grading of assessment

Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage/description
HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
In the 70-79% range.
C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
In the 60-69% range.
P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
In the 50-59% range.
N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
Below 50%.

Assignment return

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks of the cutoff date.


Feedback to you

You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

Feedback from you

You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

And if you are having problems

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Plagiarism and cheating

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


Communication methods

The best place to ask questions related to this unit is in the unit's newsgroups (follow the links from the unit web site). Questions e-mailed to your lecturer may be answered in the newsgroups where appropriate, or you may be asked to post your question so that it can be answered there.

Your lecturer will typically respond to newsgroup postings within two working days.


Notices related to the unit during the semester will be posted to the notices newsgroup. You should check this regularly (at least once per week). Failure to read the notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

Consultation Times

Consultation via newsgroup postings and e-mail may take place at any time.

Office consultation will be available immediately following on-campus classes.

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

Mr Douglas Thomson
Phone +61 3 990 26259

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

Last updated: Jul 10, 2006