2013-03 SIGCSE math reasoning

ACM SIGCSE 2013 Special Session: Engaging Mathematical Reasoning Exercises

Search Strategies: Hi-Lo Game

Clif Kussmaul, Muhlenberg College, kussmaul at muhlenberg.edu


After completing this activity, learners should be able to:

  • Explain the pros & cons of various simple search strategies.
  • Explain common tradeoffs between the complexity and performance of algorithms.
  • Assess the performance of simple algorithms as a function of their input size N.

Why Is It Engaging

  • Based on familiar children’s game
  • Students work in collaborative teams

Reasoning Topics Covered

  • Search strategies
  • Ways to measure and evaluate algorithms
  • Tradeoffs (complexity vs. performance)


I use this the very first day of CS1, and often in CS2 as well
(depending how many of the CS2 students were in my CS1 class).
I can imagine expanding the activity for use in Data Structures.

Discussion (Difficulty, Strengths, Weaknesses, Dependencies, Variants)

  • I like using this activity the first day of class because it shows:
    • how we (in CS) identify and evaluate ways to solve problems
    • common tradeoffs and their role in problem-solving
    • how CS can be a collaborative team activity.
  • This is structured as a process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) activity,
    but I have used a similar structure to guide full class discussion with similar results.
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Page last modified on Mon September 12, 2016 09:01:26 EDT by Clif Kussmaul. (Version 6)

Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
14 activity ALG_SRCH - searching.pdf Clif Kussmaul 2013-01-07 05:32 624.53 Kb 1551