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The Final Project

The final project should be submitted in a (probably 3 ring) binder. The binder should be divided into two sections: a group section, and an individual section. The individual section should be divided into a subsection for each team member.

Group Section

The group sections should contain the following:

Individual Section

The individual sections should contain a paper written by each individual student. The paper should include an evaluation of the project from the student's perspective. (This may or may not agree with the group evaluation.)
See note below.

This section may also include a discussion of what was learned in the course. This should not be a rehash of the lecture notes. It should contain what insights you gained from the course, not what facts you learned.

Suggested Topics for Final Paper

The following are suggested topics for your papers. These are only suggestions to get you to think about what you can cover in your own group and individual papers. This is not a checklist. I don't expect all (or even any) of these topics to be included in your papers. The actual topics you write about are up to you. The emphasis should be on the thought process you went through, what options you considered, what you decided and why, and an evaluation of what you would do if you could do it over, had more time, knew at the beginning of the course what you know now, etc.

What Data Structures did you use and why?
Identify what types of data structures you used for the project. What other structures did you consider? Why did you decide on the types of structures you did? How would you do it differently if you could do it over again? Make sure you explain your decision making process. Don't just say, for instance, "we chose a linked list because it was easy to add entries in the middle". Explain why being able to add entries in the middle was important. What are the (positive and negative) features of a linked list that you considered in making this decision. What trade-offs did you make in the process?
Describe Abstract Data Types (ADTs) that were used
What ADTs did you use? Describe the interface and explain your decision making process. How visible are the various components? Why or why not? Make sure you explain the reasons you made these decisions, not just your conclusions.
Describe the algorithms that were used
What algorithms did you use on your project? Were they based on any known algorithms? Were they modified? How? Why? If they were original algorithms (of your own design), how did you arrive at them? What other options did you consider? Why did you make the decisions that you did?
What do you know now that you wished you had known at the start?
What data structures or algorithms came up during the class that, had you known it at the beginning, would have affected the design and/or implementation of your project? Now that you know these things, how would you approach the project if you were to do it again?


Frequently Asked Questions

How long should it be?
The purpose of the submission is to impress me with how well you have mastered Data Structures and Algorithms. I don't have a fixed number of pages in mind. I would prefer a few pages of well written, well organized, insightful discussion. I don't expect that, however. :^) I don't want a few pages of generalities. I don't want a long, rambling discussion of minute details. If you can demonstrate in a few pages, great. If you need more pages, that's fine.

What's the different between the group and individual evaluations?
The group section will include what the entire group decided. If you agree with the groups decision, that is fine, but not required. I would also expect the individual sections to contain more detail and possibly different reasoning behind the decision. I would especially expect the "what would you do different/if you had more time" questions to be answered differently. If you say the exact same thing in the individual section that was said in the group section, then I have to wonder if you had any thoughts of your own on the topic. (If you are the one who wrote the group section, say so. :^)

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