CS 261: Optimization and Algorithmic Paradigms

Winter 2018-19, Stanford University
Time: Monday, Wednesday 3:00-4:20 pm
Instructor: Ashish Goel
Location: 200-203


Staff email list: cs261-win1819-staff@lists.stanford.edu

Ashish Goel (Instructor)
Office hours Tuesday 4-5pm (starting week 2)
Office hours location and contact information: Ashish Goel's Office .

Geoffrey Ramseyer (TA)
Email: gdwr AT stanford DOT edu
Office hours Monday 10:00am-12:00am, Gates 259
Please use Piazza for general questions, and write to the staff email list (cs261-win1819-staff@lists.stanford.edu) for questions specific to you. Please use Gradescope for submitting HWs.

You will receive the entry codes for both web-sites via email -- if you join the class late, send us an email and we will send you the codes.


The first half of the class will use Linear Programming as a lens to study several classical problems: max-flow, matchings, min-cost flow and applications, game theory, and sequential decision making. We will then spend some time discussing sketching, an increasingly useful tool in algorithms design and its application, getting an introduction to Bayesian decision making, and exploring approximation algorithms. We will also see applications to market-design.
Feel free to check out an earlier version of this class for an approximate preview of the notes and exercises.


75% of your grade will be based on 4 HW sets (released TBA, and due two weeks from release. They will be due on Thursdays). You will be asked to do the HWs in groups of 3 (or in exceptional situations, 2). Let us know if you need help forming a group. 25% of your grade will be based on the final exam, time TBA. We will also provide frequent exercise sets, which will be an essential part of the learning of the class, but not graded. You don't have to turn these in, but please do catch us during office hours or after class to ask any questions or discuss your answers if you have any doubts.
  1. Exercise 1
  2. HW 1. Handed out 1/22/2019; Due 1/31/2019
  3. Exercise 2
  4. HW 2. Handed out 2/4/2019; Due 2/15/2019 (Note: Problem 8 has been dropped from this problem set)
  5. Exercise 3
  6. HW 3. Handed out 2/18/2019; Due 3/1/2019
  7. Exercise 4
  8. HW 4 Handed out 3/4/2019; Due 3/15/2019
  9. Exercise 5