Sustainability themed problem solving in data structures and algorithms

Ali Erkan, Ithaca College
Tom Pfaff, Ithaca College
Jason Hamilton, Ithaca College
Michael Rogers, Ithaca College


During the past two years, we have been creating curricular material centered around complex problems rooted in sustainability. Since multi-disciplinary learning is one of our primary goals, these projects are most meaningful when they connect students from different disciplines working toward a common understanding. However, strong disciplinary components present in their solutions also allow us to frame these projects from strictly disciplinary perspectives. In this paper, we show how they can be used for increased engagement in the context of data structures and algorithms. We review two new ones to explore (i) the structural characteristics of the western part of the U.S. power-grid, and (ii) the effects of over-harvesting on fish stocks. © 2012 ACM.