A good algorithm usually comes together with a set of good data structures that allow the algorithm to manipulate the data efficiently. In this course, we consider the common data structures that are used in various computational problems. You will learn how these data structures are implemented in different programming languages and will practice implementing them in our programming assignments. This will help you to understand what is going on inside a particular built-in implementation of a data structure and what to expect from it. You will also learn typical use cases for these data structures.
A few examples of questions that we are going to cover in this class are the following:
1. What is a good strategy of resizing a dynamic array?
2. How priority queues are implemented in C++, Java, and Python?
3. How to implement a hash table so that the amortized running time of all operations is O(1) on average?
4. What are good strategies to keep a binary tree balanced?
You will also learn how services like Dropbox manage to upload some large files instantly and to save a lot of storage space!

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Priority Queues and Disjoint Sets

We start this module by considering priority queues which are used to efficiently schedule jobs, either in the context of a computer operating system or in real life, to sort huge files, which is the most important building block for any Big Data processing algorithm, and to efficiently compute shortest paths in graphs, which is a topic we will cover in our next course. For this reason, priority queues have built-in implementations in many programming languages, including C++, Java, and Python. We will see that these implementations are based on a beautiful idea of storing a complete binary tree in an array that allows to implement all priority queue methods in just few lines of code. We will then switch to disjoint sets data structure that is used, for example, in dynamic graph connectivity and image processing. We will see again how simple and natural ideas lead to an implementation that is both easy to code and very efficient. By completing this module, you will be able to implement both these data structures efficiently from scratch.