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http://www.monash.edu.au/about/monash-directions/directions.html) and strives for the highest possible quality in teaching and learning.

To monitor how successful we are in providing quality teaching and learning Monash regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through Unit Evaluation Surveys. The University’s Unit Evaluation policy (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/quality/unit-evaluation-policy.html) requires that every unit offered is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys as they are an important avenue for students to “have their say”. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

Faculties have the option of administering the Unit Evaluation survey online through the my.monash portal or in class. Lecturers will inform students of the method being used for this unit towards the end of the semester.

Student Evaluations

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to http://www.adm.monash.edu.au/cheq/evaluations/unit-evaluations/

Improvements to this unit

The students seem happy with the content of the unit.  Some have previously suggested that it include a little bit more on game theory, which would actually push it in a more mathematical direction.  In 2nd sem. 2008, I added a new paradox of my own to the syllabus.  The MonQuest evaluations in 1st and 2nd sem. 2008 were both very favourable.  About the only thing that the students seem to want changed is the name of the unit.

Unit staff - contact details

Unit leader

Associate Professor David Dowe
Associate Professor
Phone +61 3 990 55776
Fax +61 3 990 55157

Lecturer(s) :

Associate Professor David Dowe
Associate Professor
Phone +61 3 990 55776
Fax +61 3 990 55157
Dr Mohammed Belkhatir

Tutor(s) :

Associate Professor David Dowe
Associate Professor
Phone +61 3 990 55776
Fax +61 3 990 55157
Minh Le Viet

Teaching and learning method

FIT3014 provides students with lectures, tutorials/pracs to facilitate your learning.

Timetable information


Tutorial allocation

On-campus students should register for tutorials/laboratories using Allocate+.

Communication, participation and feedback

Monash aims to provide a learning environment in which students receive a range of ongoing feedback throughout their studies. You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This may take the form of group feedback, individual feedback, peer feedback, self-comparison, verbal and written feedback, discussions (on line and in class) as well as more formal feedback related to assignment marks and grades. You are encouraged to draw on a variety of feedback to enhance your learning.

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem that is affecting your study. Semesters are 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.

Unit Schedule

Week Topic Study guide Key dates
1 Introduction - analysing algorithms and their complexity    
2 Introduction to search There is a Workbook ``study guide'' to accompany most of this subject  
3 Local search and intro' to (faster) brute force search    
4 More on faster brute force search; intro' to probability and information    
5 Probability and information    
6 Randomness, complexity and coding theory overview    
Mid semester break
7 Random number generation and transforming distributions    
8 Monte Carlo simulation, simulated annealing and evolutionary algorithms    
9 Evolutionary Artificial Life (ALife) simulation, the Church-Turing thesis    
10 P, NP and NP-Completeness    
11 Catch-up, revision    
12 Catch-up, revision    
13 Revision    

Unit Resources

Prescribed text(s) and readings

Recommended text(s) and readings

Jon Kleinberg and Eva Tardos (2006).  Algorithm design.  Addison Wesley Pearson.

Zbigniew Michalewicz, David B. Fogel (2004). How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics. Springer.

Supplementary Reading

Sheldon Ross (2002). Simulation, 3rd edition. Academic Press.

Vijay V. Vazirani (2001). Approximation Algorithms. Springer.

Thomas M. Cover, Joy A. Thomas (1991). Elements of Information Theory. Wiley-Interscience.

Sara Baase, Allen Van Gelder (1999). Computer Algorithms: Introduction to Design and Analysis, 3rd Edition. Addison Wesley.

 There is a Workbook ``study guide'' to accompany most of this subject

Required software and/or hardware

You will need access to:

  • Linux software
  • C under Linux, C++ under Linux
  • Java
On-campus students may use this software which is installed in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook.

Equipment and consumables required or provided

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 approximately 8 or so hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Study resources

Study resources we will provide for your study are:

  • Weekly (detailed) lecture notes outlining the learning objectives, discussion of the content, required readings and exercises;
  • (A workbook of) weekly (or perhaps occasionally fortnightly) tutorial or laboratory tasks and exercises - with sample solutions to be provided one to two weeks later;
  • Assignment specifications;
  • This Unit Guide outlining the administrative information for the unit;
  • The unit web site on Blackboard (or MUSO), where resources outlined above will be made available.
  • Solutions to assignments and (time permitting) a sample exam will be discussed in class, so please be prepared and attentive with your questions.  But, printed worked solutions will most probably not be circulated.

Library access

The Monash University Library site contains details about borrowing rights and catalogue searching.  To learn more about the library and the various resources available, please go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au.

The Educational Library and Media Resources (LMR) is also a very resourceful place to visit at http://www.education.monash.edu.au/library/

Monash University Studies Online (MUSO)

All unit and lecture materials are available through MUSO (Monash University Studies Online). Blackboard is the primary application used to deliver your unit resources. Some units will be piloted in Moodle. If your unit is piloted in Moodle, you will see a link from your Blackboard unit to Moodle (http://moodle.monash.edu.au) and can bookmark this link to access directly. In Moodle, from the Faculty of Information Technology category, click on the link for your unit.

You can access MUSO and Blackboard via the portal: http://my.monash.edu.au

Click on the Study and enrolment tab, then Blackboard under the MUSO learning systems.

In order for your Blackboard unit(s) to function correctly, your computer needs to be correctly configured.

For example:

  • Blackboard supported browser
  • Supported Java runtime environment

For more information, please visit: http://www.monash.edu.au/muso/support/students/downloadables-student.html

You can contact the MUSO Support by phone : (+61 3) 9903 1268

For further contact information including operational hours, please visit: http://www.monash.edu.au/muso/support/students/contact.html

Further information can be obtained from the MUSO support site: http://www.monash.edu.au/muso/support/index.html


Unit assessment policy

To pass this unit, a student must obtain :

    * 40% or more in the unit's examination and
    * 40% or more in the unit's non-examination assessment
    * an overall unit mark of 50% or more

If a student does not achieve 40% or more in the unit examination or the unit non-examination assessment then a mark of no greater than 44-N will be recorded for the unit.

Assignment tasks

  • Assignment Task

    Title : Assignment 1

    Description :

    Weighting : 15%

    Criteria for assessment :

    Due date : To be advised in assignment specification

  • Assignment Task

    Title : Assignment 2

    Description :

    Weighting : 15%

    Criteria for assessment :

    Due date : To be advised in assignment specification

  • Assignment Task

    Title : Assignment 3 - Assessed Practical

    Description :

    Weighting : 10%

    Criteria for assessment :

    At least part of this assessment will be the attendance record kept at tutes and labs.

    Due date : To be advised


  • Examination 1

    Weighting : 60%

    Length : 3 hours

    Type ( open/closed book ) : Closed book

Assignment submission

Assignments will be submitted by  both electronic and paper submission to both Blackboard and Damocles (electronic submission) and the General Office (printed hard copy paper submission).   All three versions should be identical and should be submitted before the specified deadline.  On-campus Students Submit the printed hard copy assignment to the General Office by the specified deadline, with the appropriate cover sheet correctly filled out and attached.

See also ``Assessment policies'', including ``Plagiarism, cheating and collusion''.

Assignment coversheets

Students include an assignment coversheet for both printed hard copy submissions and electronic soft copy submissions. Assignment coversheets can be found :

    * via the "Student assignment coversheets" (http://infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/assignments/ ) page on the faculty website (for printed hard copy submissions)
    * (for electronic soft copy submissions) coversheets are provided within the Blackboard (MUSO) system(s).  Make sure to submit soft electronic copy to both Blackboard and Damocles.

University and Faculty policy on assessment

Due dates and extensions

The due dates for the submission of assignments are given in the previous section. Please make every effort to submit work by the due dates. 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. Students are advised to NOT assume that granting of an extension is a matter of course.

Requests for extensions must be made to the unit lecturer at yourcampus at least two days before the due date. You will be asked toforward original medical certificates in cases of illness (you should make sure to keep a copy of these), and may beasked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary.  A copy of the e-mail or other written communication of an extension must be attached to - and mentioned within - the assignment submission.  If in doubt, please discuss this with your lecturer.

Late assignment

Assignments received after the due date without adequate medical or other reason will be subject to a penalty of up to 5% per day, including weekends. An assignment is deemed late if any of the submitted versions (recall ``Assessment details'', ``Assignment submission'') is late.  Assignments received later than one week (seven days) after the due date will not normally be accepted. In some cases, this period may be shorter if there is a need to release sample solutions or discuss solutions in class.

This policy will often be strictly adhered to 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.

Return dates

Students can expect assignments to be returned within two weeks of the submission date or after receipt, whichever is later.

Assessment for the unit as a whole is in accordance with the provisions of the Monash University Education Policy at http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/assessment/

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.

Plagiarism, cheating and collusion

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 the University Plagiarism policy and procedure (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) which applies to students detected plagiarising.

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.

Register of counselling about plagiarism

The university requires faculties to keep a simple and confidential register to record counselling to students about plagiarism (e.g. warnings). The register is accessible to Associate Deans Teaching (or nominees) and, where requested, students concerned have access to their own details in the register. The register is to serve as a record of counselling about the nature of plagiarism, not as a record of allegations; and no provision of appeals in relation to the register is necessary or applicable.

Non-discriminatory language

The Faculty of Information Technology is committed to the use of non-discriminatory language in all forms of communication. Discriminatory language is that which refers in abusive terms to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, citizenship or nationality, ethnic or language background, physical or mental ability, or political or religious views, or which stereotypes groups in an adverse manner. This is not meant to preclude or inhibit legitimate academic debate on any issue; however, the language used in such debate should be non-discriminatory and sensitive to these matters. It is important to avoid the use of discriminatory language in your communications and written work. The most common form of discriminatory language in academic work tends to be in the area of gender inclusiveness. You are, therefore, requested to check for this and to ensure your work and communications are non-discriminatory in all respects.

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities that may disadvantage them in assessment should seek advice from one of the following before completing assessment tasks and examinations:

Deferred assessment and special consideration

Deferred assessment (not to be confused with an extension for submission of an assignment) may be granted in cases of extenuating personal circumstances such as serious personal illness or bereavement. Information and forms for Special Consideration and deferred assessment applications are available at http://www.monash.edu.au/exams/special-consideration.html. Contact the Faculty's Student Services staff at your campus for further information and advice.

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