Most professional programmers that I’ve encountered are not well prepared to tackle algorithm design problems. This is a pity, because the techniques of algorithm design form one of the core practical technologies of computer science. Designing correct, efficient, and implementable algorithms for real-world problems requires access to two distinct bodies of knowledge: • Techniques – Good algorithm designers understand several fundamental algorithm design techniques, including data structures, dynamic programming, depth first search, backtracking, and heuristics. Perhaps the single most important design technique is modeling, the art of abstracting a messy real-world application into a clean problem suitable for algorithmic attack. • Resources – Good algorithm designers stand on the shoulders of giants. Rather than laboring from scratch to produce a new algorithm for every task, they can figure out what is known about a particular problem. Rather than re-implementing popular algorithms from scratch, they seek existing implementations to serve as a starting point. They are familiar with many classic algorithmic problems, which provide sufficient source material to model most any application. This book is intended as a manual on algorithm design, providing access to combinatorial algorithm technology for both students and computer professionals.
From the reviews of the second edition: "This is detailed and timeless book that I keep reaching for. A useful book that I can not keep access to long enough. It is a important book to have in your library. Unlike other algorithm books that I have the algorithms are written independent of any programming language." (Mary Anne, Cats and Dogs with Data, maryannedata.com, April, 2014) "The Algorithm Design Manual by Steven Skiena is aimed at two groups of people: students and professionals. ... It is written in an informal style that I found pleasant and engaging. ... The book's unique structure makes it more likely to be immediately useful to the practitioner who has problem to solve and wants to quickly make progress ... . the book succeeds admirably. ... would be helpful to the student who has never seen this material before. ... Overall, I recommend this book warmly." (Neelakantan Kartha, The Book Review Column, 2011) "Algorithms are the very heart of computing ... . This book is about right for most people. ... Each of the topics is treated in a readable informal style with lots of asides and accounts of personal experiences - 'war stories' in implementing algorithms. ... If you want to use it as a course textbook then there are lots of exercises at the end of every chapter. Highly recommended." (Mike James, I Programmer, September, 2009) "Addressing the main difficulties of solving problems, this book goes far beyond the design of algorithms. It is essential for scientists, engineers, and any professionals who aim to solve problems, with a noticeable emphasis on real problems. It will not only serve as a valuable undergraduate textbook, but it will also become an irreplaceable reference guide for most professionals in the area." (Carlos Linares Lopez, Computing Reviews, February, 2009) "Skiena focuses on the practical aspects of algorithm design and use. ... this work fills an important gap in the knowledge of CS practitioners and students. ... this book is suitable as a text for an undergraduate algorithms class, but also as an invaluable reference for the practicing programmer. ... This second edition has updated the bibliography to include recent works, making it an extensive bibliography. The index is also thorough and very useful for finding specific problems." (William Fahle, ACM Computing Reviews, December, 2008) "For a decade, Steven Skiena's Algorithm Design Manual retained its title as the best and most comprehensive practical algorithm guide to help identify and solve problems. It is now available in an improved second edition that is worth buying simply for the updates. ... Every programmer should read this book, and anyone working in the field should keep it close to hand. ... Would I recommend it? Absolutely. This is the best investment ... a programmer or aspiring programmer can make." (Harold Thimbleby, Times Higher Education, November, 2008) "My absolute favorite for this kind of interview preparation is Steven Skiena's The Algorithm Design Manual. More than any other book it helped me understand just how astonishingly commonplace ... graph problems are -- they should be part of every working programmer's toolkit. The book also covers basic data structures and sorting algorithms, which is a nice bonus. ... every 1 - pager has a simple picture, making it easy to remember. This is a great way to learn how to identify hundreds of problem types." (Steve Yegge, Steve Yegge's Blog, March, 2008) "...the book is an algorithm implementation treasure trove, and putting all of these implementations in one place was no small feat. The list of implementations, an extensive bibliography ... make the book an invaluable resource for everyone interested in the subject." (ACM Computing Reviews)
Steven Skiena is Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University. His research interests include the design of graph, string, and geometric algorithms, and their applications (particularly to biology). He is the author of four books, including "The Algorithm Design Manual" and "Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling, and Mathematical Modeling to Win". He is recipient of the ONR Young Investigator Award and the IEEE Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award.