REVIEW - Understanding Algorithms and Data Structures


Understanding Algorithms and Data Structures


David Brunskill, John Turner



McGraw-Hill Companies (1996)




Francis Glassborow


February 2000



This book does not fit with other texts that have similar titles. When I picked it up it seemed rather short but that was because I expected to find a book that covered a range of the more standard algorithms and data structures. If that is what you are looking for, give this book a miss.

What the authors seem to be trying to achieve is providing students with some idea as to what these topics are about together with some insight into ways to assess the effectiveness of a particular method. I am not sure that I would have wanted to have started an item on sorting by introducing a selection sort and then following that with a bubble sort. The later may be a good example of a poor algorithm that can be improved by some simple modifications but even when you finish you have an algorithm that is poor for general purpose sorting (even though it is exceptionally good for short lists that are generally already sorted, or at worst have a single miss-placed element).

I find the authors' decision to provide all source code in (poor) C and Ada (I cannot assess the quality of this) a curious one. This is clearly a student text and as such goes into insufficient detail to be the sole text on the subject for a course reading list. That means that, if nothing else, the price kills it dead in the water. No student that I have ever met would consider paying so much for so little, even if the presentation was outstanding (which it is not).

Sorry, this is a good idea but poorly and expensively implemented.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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