Research and Advances

Programming pearls: Aha algorithms


The study of algorithms has much to offer the practicing programmer. After just a course or two on the subject, students take away algorithms for solving many important tasks and design techniques for attacking new problems. Advanced algorithmic tools can have a substantial impact on software systems. Next month, for instance, we'll study a system in which algorithm design helped reduce development time by 170 staff-years. As important as such tools are, algorithms can have an impact on a more common level of programming. In his book aha! Insight (from which I shamelessly stole my title), Martin Gardner describes the type of contribution I have in mind: “a problem that seems difficult may have a simple, unexpected solution.” Unlike the advanced methods of the field, the aha! insights of algorithms don't come only after extensive study; they're available to any programmer willing to think seriously before, during, and after coding. But enough generalities, on to the problems!

View this article in the ACM Digital Library.

Join the Discussion (0)

Become a Member or Sign In to Post a Comment

The Latest from CACM

Shape the Future of Computing

ACM encourages its members to take a direct hand in shaping the future of the association. There are more ways than ever to get involved.

Get Involved

Communications of the ACM (CACM) is now a fully Open Access publication.

By opening CACM to the world, we hope to increase engagement among the broader computer science community and encourage non-members to discover the rich resources ACM has to offer.

Learn More