Graphs and Algorithms

Module aims

In this module you will have the opportunity to:

  • prove mathematical properties of graphs
  • explore classical algorithms associated with graphs and trees
  • design algorithms for sorting and searching
  • apply various methods for determining the time complexity of algorithm
  • study the complexity classes P and NP and the concept of NP-completeness

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Prove basic properties of graphs
  • Describe, and establish the correctness of, some of the fundamental algorithms in computing
  • Analyse the time complexity of an algorithm
  • Explain the complexity classes P and NP and the P=NP problem
  • Determine to which complexity class a computational problem belongs

Module syllabus

  • Graphs and graph representations
  • Algorithms for graph traversal
  • Minimum spanning trees
  • Shortest paths
  • Dynamic programming
  • Divide and conquer
  • Searching and sorting
  • Algorithm analysis (time complexity, recurrence relations, Master Theorem)
  • Decision trees
  • The complexity classes P and NP, NP-completeness               

Teaching methods

The material will be taught through traditional lectures, backed up by formative exercises designed to reinforce the material as it is taught. Approximately half of these exercises will be covered in small-group tutorials, Personal Maths Tutorials (PMTs), which are weekly one-hour tutorials run by academic tutors and Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs). These tutorials encourage group discussions and group problem solving designed to reinforce your understanding of key topics in logic, discrete mathematics, algorithm design and program reasoning. The remaining exercises are intended for you to use for self-study.   

An online service will be used as a discussion forum for the module.          


There will be one assessed coursework that contributes 15% of the mark for the module. There will be a final written exam, which counts for the remaining 85% of the marks. The formative exercises selected for the PMT tutorials will be assessed by your academic tutor and UTA. This assessment does not count to your final degree mark, but is intended to give you an indication of how well you are assimilating the material taught and how effectively you are applying that material to solving previously unseen problems. 
Detailed feedback, both written and verbal, will be given on the exercises covered in the PMT tutorials. These exercises will be issued approximately every two weeks and written feedback will be returned the week after submission. You will receive written feedback on the assessed coursework exercise, which counts for 15% of the module mark.

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Iain Phillips