An Algorithms Future

My Favorite Course in Computer Science

Name: Halil Utku Unlu
Country: Turkey
Year: Class of 2019
Major: Electrical engineering with a minor in computer science
Course: Algorithms

The course provides the foundation for a computer science degree in understanding algorithms and sets of instructions to perform a particular operation. The course is specifically about learning how to verify if the algorithm will work as intended and how to assess the algorithm's performance in terms of time and space, through real-life examples.

Why This Course

The main motivation for me to take the course was because my computer science minor requires me to complete Algorithms. I enjoyed Professor Godfried Toussaint's way of teaching the course. As with all classes, the instructor is the one who makes or breaks in making learning the subject fun. 

A Typical Day in This Class

The class was in a seminar format where weekly assignment solutions were discussed. The students provided their answers on board and the solutions were assessed by both the students and the instructor. In addition, there were numerous instances where a student was asked to perform a particular task on board, to illustrate a point relevant to an algorithm, a topic, or a solution.

What I Loved About The Class

In one demonstration, the professor handed out a paper filled with dots, and asked us to connect all points with a single closed loop without intersections and without erasing lines. The problem is usually referred to as a variant of Traveling Salesperson Problem in computer science.

After everyone returned their papers, the solutions were classified into categories. The professor then moved on to describe numerous approaches to find a solution. Impressively, all mentioned approaches had already been used by the students without prompt. The professor knew this would happen, and incorporated it into the lecture in a brilliant way.

Tips on Navigating What Major or Course to Take

  1. Speak to potential faculty mentors and upperclassmen who have studied the major and have similar interests and degree in mind. 
  2. Think of the type of jobs you want to have, and what you want to learn about. There is no need for crystal clear answers but having a general idea helps make decisions.
  3. Pick courses that interest you so you will enjoy it.
  4. Speak with classmates who have interacted with the instructor previously— it makes a difference for an amazing experience.

Why NYU Abu Dhabi?

It's a cliché answer, but the international aspect of NYUAD appealed to me. I have gained insights on how people from various cultures and various locations in the world are thinking about a particular topic through my everyday interactions and courses.

There is a limited number of places that can offer such a perspective, which is becoming more relevant as we are shrinking our world with quicker transportation and communications.

It was an experiment for me, and the results are yet to be seen as I am finalizing my undergraduate education. However, from what I have experienced so far, I believe it was the right experiment to take part in.