Purpose: Self-Learning, NOT for course or exam

Prerequisite: Done a course in basic data structures and algorithms, but too basic, not many things.

Major: Bachelor, Mathematics

My Opinion: Prefer more compact, mathematical, rigorous book on Algorithms and Data Structures. Since it's for long-term self-learning, not for exam or course, then related factors should not be considered (e.g. learning curve, time-usage), only based on the book to perfectly train algorithms and data structures.

After searching at Amazon, following three are somehow highly reputed.

(1)Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1-4A

This book-set contains most important things in Algorithms, and very mathematically rigorous. I prefer to use this to learn algorithms all in one step.

(2)Cormen, Introduction to Algorithms

It's more like in-between (1) and (3).

(3)Skiena, The Algorithm Design Manual

More introductory and practical compared with (1), is it ok for this to be warm-up then read (1), and skip (2) ?

Desirable answer: Advice or more recommended books


Knuth is an interesting case, it's certainly fairly rigorous, but I would never recommend it as a text to learn from. It's one of those ones that is great once you already know the answer, but fairly terrible if you want to learn something. On top of this, the content is now rather archaically presented and the pseudocode is not the most transparent.

Of course this is my experience of it (background CS & maths), but I have encountered this rough assessment a few times.

  • $\begingroup$ is it relatively enough to use (3)->(2)->(1) as whole reading in Algorithms, (3)&(2) treated as learning text ? $\endgroup$ – Xingdong Jul 24 '12 at 11:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think together they'd certainly give you good coverage, Cormen et al. alone covers a big chunk of the "basic background knowledge" that will make you pretty conversant in algorithmics. $\endgroup$ – Luke Mathieson Jul 24 '12 at 12:22

I would suggest you take 2 (Cormen et. al - Introduction to algortihms) and combine it with the online video lectures for this book.

The book is very formal and offers a variety of exercises.


Some years ago the journal "Dr Dobb's" issued a CD called "Dr Dobb's Essential Books on Algorithms and Data Structures". There were 8 complete books on it with a search engine. The Cormen book is one of those on the CD. I am not sure whether the CD is still available.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.