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Algorithms in C++ 2nd Edition Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201510591
ISBN-10: 0201510596
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert Sedgewick's Algorithms series has earned a place among the classics of computer books. Algorithms in C++ provides a comprehensive collection of classic algorithms for sorting, searching, parsing, geometrical manipulation, and more. The book includes not just C++ code but detailed--yet readable--explanations of how it works and what each algorithm's advantages and disadvantages are in terms of execution time and memory demands. An invaluable and timeless resource.

From the Inside Flap

This book is intended to survey the most important computeralgorithms in use today and to teach fundamental techniques tothe growing number of people in need of knowing them. It can beused as a textbook for a second, third, or fourth course incomputer science, after students have acquired some programmingskills and familiarity with computer systems, but before theyhave taken specialized courses in advanced areas of computerscience or computer applications.

Additionally, the book may be useful for self-study or as areference for those engaged in the development of computersystems or applications programs, since it contains a number ofimplementations of useful algorithms and detailed information ontheir performance characteristics. The broad perspective takenin the book makes it an appropriate introduction to the field.

The algorithms are expressed in the C++ programming language(versions of the book in Pascal and C are also available). Nospecific knowledge about the language is assumed--the treatmenthere is self-contained (though fast-paced). Readers who havesome familiarity with C++ will find the language a useful vehiclefor learning a variety of methods of practical interest. Readerswho have some familiarity with basic algorithms will find thetreatment here a useful vehicle for learning a variety offeatures of the C++ language, while at the same time learningsome new algorithms.


The book contains forty-five chapters grouped into eight majorparts: fundamentals, sorting, searching, string processing,geometric algorithms, graph algorithms, mathematical algorithmsand advanced topics. A major goal in developing this book hasbeen to bring together the fundamental methods from these diverseareas, in order to provide access to the best methods known forsolving problems by computer. Some of the chapters giveintroductory treatments of advanced material. It is hoped thatthe descriptions here can give readers some understanding of thebasic properties of fundamental algorithms ranging from priorityqueues and hashing to simplex and the fast Fourier transform.

One or two previous courses in computer science or equivalentprogramming experience are recommended for a reader to be able toappreciate the material in this book: one course in programmingin high-level languages such as C++, C or Pascal, and perhapsanother course which teaches fundamental concepts of programmingsystems. This book is thus intended for anyone conversant with amodern programming language and with the basic features of moderncomputer systems. References that might help fill in gaps inone's background are suggested in the text.

Most of the mathematical material supporting the analytic resultsis self-contained (or labeled as "beyond the scope" of thisbook), so little specific preparation in mathematics is requiredfor the bulk of the book, though a certain amount deal withalgorithms related to more advanced mathematical material--theseare intended to place the algorithms in context with othermethods throughout the book, not to teach the mathematicalmaterial. Thus the discussion of advanced mathematical conceptsis brief, general, and descriptive.


There is a great deal of flexibility in how the material here canbe taught. To a large extent, the individual chapters in thebook can be read independently of the others, though in somecases algorithms in one chapter make use of methods from aprevious chapter. The material can be adapted for use forvarious courses by selecting perhaps 25 or 30 of the 45 chapters,according to the taste of the instructor and the preparation ofthe students.

The book begins with an introductory section on data structuresand the design and analysis of algorithms. This sets the tonefor the rest of the book and provides a framework within whichmore advanced algorithms are treated. Some readers may skip orskim this section; others may learn the basics there.

An elementary course on "data structures and algorithms" mightomit some of the mathematical algorithms and some of the advancedtopics, then emphasize how various data structures are used inthe implementations. An intermediate course on "design andanalysis of algorithms" might omit some of the more practicallyoriented sections, then emphasize the identification and study ofthe ways in which algorithms achieve good asymptotic performance. A course on "software tools" might omit the mathematical andadvanced algorithmic material, then emphasize how to integratethe implementations given here into large programs or systems. Acourse on "algorithms" might take a survey approach and introduceconcepts from all these areas.

Some instructors may wish to add supplementary material to thecourses described above to reflect their particular orientation. For "data structures and algorithms," more mathematical analysiscould be added; and for "software tools", software engineeringtechniques could be covered in more depth. In this book,attention is paid to all these areas, but the emphasis is on thealgorithms themselves.

Earlier versions of this book have been used in recent years atscores of colleges and universities around the country as a textfor the second or third course in computer science and assupplemental reading for other courses. At Princeton, ourexperience has been that the breadth of coverage of material inthis book provides our majors with an introduction to computerscience that can be expanded upon in later courses on analysis ofalgorithms, systems programming and theoretical computer science,while at the same time providing all the students with a largeset of techniques that they can immediately put to good use.

There are 450 exercises ten following each chapter, thatgenerally divide into one of two types. Most are intended totest students' understanding of material in the next and askstudents to work through an example or apply concepts describedin the text. A few of them, however, involve implementing andputting together some of the algorithms, perhaps runningempirical studies to compare algorithms and to learn theirproperties.


The orientation of the book is toward algorithms likely to be ofpractical use. The emphasis is on teaching students the tools oftheir trade to the point that they can confidently implement, runand debug useful algorithms. Full implementations of the methodsdiscussed are included in the text, along with descriptions ofthe operations of these programs on a consistent set of examples. Indeed, as discussed in the epilog, hundreds of figures areincluded in the book that have been created by the algorithmsthemselves. Many algorithms are brought to light on an intuitivelevel through the visual dimension provided by these figures.

Characteristics of the algorithms and situations in which theymight be useful are discussed in detail. Though not emphasized,connections to the analysis of algorithms and theoreticalcomputer science are not ignored. When appropriate, empiricaland analytic results are discussed to illustrate why certainalgorithms are preferred. When interesting, the relationship ofthe practical algorithms being discussed to purely theoreticalresults is described. Specific information performancecharacteristics of algorithms is encapsulated throughout in"properties," important facts about the algorithms that deservefurther study.

Some algorithms are used in relatively small programs to solvespecific problems. Others play an integral part in relativelylarge systems. Many fundamental algorithms find application inboth domains. We indicate as appropriate how algorithms might bespecialized for use as problem-solving tools or generalized forintegration into much bigger programs. Such considerations areof particular interest for algorithms expressed in anobject-oriented language such as C++. In this book we providerelevant information that can be used to make intelligenttradeoffs between utility and performance in implementing widelyapplicable algorithms.

While there is little direct treatment of specific uses of thealgorithms in science and engineering applications, the potentialfor such use is mentioned when appropriate. Our experience hasbeen that when students learn good algorithms in a computerscience context early in their education, they are able to applythem to solve problems when warranted later on.


The programming language used throughout the book is C++ (Pascaland C versions of the book are also available). Any particularlanguage has advantages and disadvantages--our intention here isto provide access to the fundamental algorithms that have beendeveloped over the years to the growing number of people who aremoving to C++ as a primary language and using it forapplications. The programs can easily be translated to othermodern programming languages, since they are written in astylized form that are relatively language-independent. Indeed,many of the programs have been translated from Pascal, C, andother languages, though we try to use standard C++ idioms whenappropriate. On the other hand, C++ is particularly well-suitedto our task, because its basic support for data abstraction andmodular programming allows us to clearly express relationshipsamong algorithms and data structures.

Some of the programs can simplified by using more advancedlanguage feature, but this is true less often than one might think. Although language features are discussed when appropriate, thisbook is not intended to be reference work on C++ or onobject-oriented programming. While we use C++ classes heavily,we do not use templates, inheritance or virtual functions. Butthe algorithms are coded so as to ease the process of embeddingthem in large systems where such features can be used toadvantage in an object-oriented programming approach. Whenforced to make a choice, we concentrate on the algorithms, notlanguage feature or implementations details.

A goal of this book is to present the algorithms in as simple anddirect a form as possible. The programs are intended to be readnot by themselves, but as part of the surrounding text. Thisstyle was chosen as an alternative, for example, to having inlinecomments. The style is consistent whenever possible, so thatprograms that are similar look similar.


Many people gave me helpful feedback on earlier versions of thisbook. In particular, students at Princeton and Brown sufferedthrough preliminary versions ofthe material in this book in the1980's. Special thanks are due to Trina Avery, Tom Freeman andJanet Incerpi for their help in producing the first edition. Iwould particularly like to thank Janet for converting the bookinto TeX format, adding the thousands of changes I made after the"last draft" of the first edition, guiding the files throughvarious systems to produce printed pages and even writing thescan-conversion routine for TeX used to produce draftmanuscripts, among many other things. Only after performing manyof these tasks myself for later versions do I truly appreciateJanet's contribution. I would also like to thank the manyreaders who provided me with detailed comments about the secondedition, including Guy Almes, Jay Gischer, Kennedy Lemke, UdiManber, Dana Richards, John Reif, M. Rosenfield, Stephen Seidman,and Michael Quinn.

Many of the designs in the figures are based on joint work withMarc Brown in the "electronic classroom" project at BrownUniversity in 1983. Marc's support and assistance in creatingthe designs (not tomention the system with which we worked) aregratefully acknowledged. I would like to acknowledge SarantosKapidakis' help in producing the endpapers.

This C++ version owes its existence to the persistence of KeithWollman who convinced me to proceed, and the patience of PeterGordon, who was confident that I would get around to doing so. Dave Hanson's willingness to answer questions about C and C++ wasinvaluable. I also would like to thank Darcy Cotten and SkipPlank for their help in producing the book.

Much of what I've written here I've learned from the teachingsand writings of Don Knuth, my advisor at Stanford. Though Donhad no direct influence on this work, his presence may be felt inthe book, for it was he who put the study of algorithms on ascientific footing that makes a work such as this possible.

I am very thankful for the support of Brown University and INRIAwhere I did most of the work on the book, and the Institute forDefense Analyses and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where Idid some work on the book while visiting. Many parts of the bookare dependent on research that has been generously supported bythe National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.Finally, I would like to thank Bill Bowen, Aaron Lemonick, andNeil Rudenstine at Princeton University for their support inbuilding an academic environment in which I was able to preparethis book, despite numerous other responsibilities. 0201510596P04062001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2nd Edition edition (May 10, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201510596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201510591
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,828,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is easily one of the leading texts on data structures and algorithms - a third edition has already been released (however, that is practically a new book ,so read on :-)...). Sedgewick is a student of the great Donald Knuth, and a leading researcher and authority in the field of Algorithmics.
'Pound for pound', this might be as good as Cormen et al's classic, which is the undisputed leader among introductory books on algorithms. However, this has two advantages over that book :
(1)Size : Weighing in at a lean 656 pages, this is almost 40% smaller than Cormen's classic, while providing approximately the same breadth. However, Cormen has the edge in depth, especially rigorous analysis of algorithms' performance.
(2)'Real' code : This book has code snippets in C++, as opposed to Cormen which has it in pseudocode.However, the code is far from 'ready to run' - it's just enough to give you an idea how to go about building your own code.
Another plus point is short and crisp chapters which can be easily 'digested' - average chapter size is only about 14 pages.
This book really covers a lot of topics - sorting, searching, parsing, computational geometry, graphs, fast fourier transforms, mathematical algorithms and much,much more.
It is written in a very readable style, and the illustrations are a big help, perhaps the best in a book of this kind. It would've benefitted from a few more exercises, brief solutions, and a little more rigour in performance analysis.
The code is excellent at one level, but it's actually excellent C code masquerading as C++ code, i believe.
If you have no problem with C, you should perhaps go for the C version of this book - the C code is reminiscent of Kernighan & Ritchie. Beautiful, elegant C code !!
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Format: Paperback
Just wanted to let everyone know that the reviews here (till 6th March
2002 at any rate) are not of the book 'Algorithms in C++ part 5
graph algorithms' by Robert Sedgewick, but of the earlier edition of
his book on algorithms.
To get an idea of the book it's supposed to be about, please refer to
the review(s) on 'Algorithms in C part 5 graph algorithms', which i
expect to identical but for the code.
It'd be surprising indeed if the book isn't substantially better than
the reviews for the earlier book indicate ..........
The first volume, ie parts 1-4 are excellent - please refer to the
reviews on that, they're for the current edition :-)
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a learned industrial engineer in electronics but got into informatics right after my degree. So I never had a course on algorithmic and had to learn nearly everything by myself.
After some years of working in the field, I tought it was maybe time to get some background on the subject so I got this (now an outdated edition) of the book.
Well, it was the book it took the longest to me to finish in the informatics field.
The book explains a whole bunch of basic and more advanced general-purpose algorithms, and so has a good coverrage of the subject.
However, there are two problems with the book:
1) The coding style is very bad: the author likes to use global variables, and variable names are often very cryptic. Example:
* p = parent
* g = grandparent
* gg = greatgrandparent
* c = child
* x = current node
* y = temporary node
2) You cannot read this book's chapters in a random way: you have to follow the chapter ordering, because often knowledge of later chapters is based of knowledge of earlier chapters, and, because of the bad coding style you have to often remember the meaning of the cryptic variable names several chapters later when they are reused. If you're like me, you've forgotten the meaning, which means reread that damn chapter, which in turn can again be based on an earlier chapter. You get the picture why it took me so long?
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Format: Hardcover
It is strange to me why some people love this book so much. Admittedly, Sedgewick is very respected in his field and knows a lot about sorting algorithms, but his book is still dissapointing and very frustrating to read for a beginning computer science student. He seldom includes complete code in his examples, and where there is code, there are sometimes errors in the code.
This reviewer took Sedgewick's class at Princeton University where this book was the required text, and not only was the text poor, his lectures were terribly boring. He himself even recognized that there were errors in his book, and so he allowed his students and TA's to submit errors found in the book. At the end of the year, the list of references to mistakes in the book took up more than three pages.
This review is not the result of a student upset about his grade (an A is fine with me), but is rather an attempt to warn students about the potential pitfalls that may be encountered in reading Sedgewick's book. I suppose this could be a great book for an intermediate or advanced CS student who doesn't mind the sparse and sometimes erroneous code or the terse language used to describe fairly complex ideas. Also, there are some parts of the book that are well written and a pleasure to read. However, I would never recomend this book to anyone interested in learning algorithms for this first time without a fair amount of prior programming experience.
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