Department of Computer Science | Institute of Theoretical Computer Science | CADMO

Theory of Combinatorial Algorithms

Prof. Emo Welzl and Prof. Bernd Gärtner

Geometry: Combinatorics & Algorithms (252-1425-00L) HS20

Time & Place

Note that due to the current situation with the social distancing requirements, the course format is modified. In class teaching is maintained for lectures, with presentation slides and audio being recorded and accessible online. The exercise sessions are taught online only.

Lectures: Monday 13:15-14:00, CAB G.11,
Thursday 14:15-16:00, HG G.3. The lecturers are:
Bernd Gärtner, CAB G31.1, Tel: 044-632 70 26,
Michael Hoffmann, CAB G33.1, Tel: 044-632 73 90,
Emo Welzl, CAB G39.2, Tel: 044-632 73 70,
Manuel Wettstein, CAB G38, Tel: 044-633 32 22,
Exercise: Thursday 16:15-17:45, online. The teaching assistants are:
Nicolas Grelier, CAB G19.2, Tel: 044-632 42 86,
Valentin Stoppiello,


Course Material

Lecture notes from last year

Date Content Exercises and links Lecture notes

#1 17.09.2020 Information about the course, planar and geometric graphs Exercise 1, Links Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Slides

#2 21.09.2020 Unique Embeddings Links Slides

#3 24.09.2020 Unique Embeddings, Maximal planar graphs Exercise 2, Links Slides

#4 28.09.2020 Maximal planar graphs, Canonical Orderings Links Slides

#5 01.10.2020 Canonical Orderings, Compact Straight-line drawings Exercise 3, Links, Homework 1 Slides

#6 05.10.2020 Crossing Lemma Links Chapter 3, Slides

#7 08.10.2020 Crossing Lemma Exercise 4, Links, Exercise 4-3

#8 12.10.2020 Polygons, Polygon triangulation Links Chapter 4

#9 15.10.2020 Polygon triangulation, Convexity Exercise 5 Chapter 5

#10 19.10.2020 Convexity Links

#11 22.10.2020 Convexity Exercise 6, Links

#12 26.10.2020 Delaunay triangulations Links Chapter 6

#13 29.10.2020 Delaunay triangulations, Incremental construction Exercise 7, Links, Homework 2 Chapter 7

#14 02.11.2020 Incremental construction Links

#15 05.11.2020 Voronoi Diagrams, Kirkpatrick's Hierarchy Exercise 8, Links Chapter 8

#16 09.11.2020 Polytopes Links Chapter 9, Slides

#17 12.11.2020 Polytopes Exercise 9, Links Slides

#18 16.11.2020 Polytopes Links Slides

#19 19.11.2020 Polytopes, Line Arrangements Links Chapter 10, Slides

#20 23.11.2020 Line Arrangements, Zone Theorem Links Slides

#21 26.11.2020 Line Arrangements, Ham Sandwich Cuts Exercise 10, Links, Homework 3 Slides

#22 30.11.2020 Davenport-Schinzel sequences Links Slides

#23 03.12.2020 Simplicial Depth, Facets of Polytopes Links Chapter 11

#24 07.12.2020 Simplicial Depth, Facets of Polytopes Links

#25 10.12.2020 Simplicial Depth, Facets of Polytopes Exercise 11, Links

#26 14.12.2020 Simplicial Depth, Facets of Polytopes Links

#27 17.12.2020 Simplicial Depth, Facets of Polytopes Exercise 12, Links

Course Description

Geometric structures are useful in many areas, and there is a need to understand their structural properties, and to work with them algorithmically. The lecture addresses theoretical foundations concerning geometric structures. Central objects of interest are triangulations. We study combinatorial (Does a certain object exist?) and algorithmic questions (Can we find a certain object efficiently?) Our goal is to make students familiar with fundamental concepts, techniques and results in combinatorial and computational geometry, so as to enable them to model, analyze, and solve theoretical and practical problems in the area and in various application domains. In particular, we want to prepare students for conducting independent research, for instance, within the scope of a thesis project.

Covered topics include: planar and geometric graphs, embeddings and their representation (Whitney's Theorem, canonical orderings, DCEL), polygon triangulations and the art gallery theorem, convexity in R^d, planar convex hull algorithms (Jarvis Wrap, Graham Scan, Chan's Algorithm), point set triangulations, Delaunay triangulations (Lawson flips, lifting map, randomized incremental construction), Voronoi diagrams, the Crossing Lemma and incidence bounds, line arrangements (duality, Zone Theorem, ham-sandwich cuts), 3-SUM hardness.

Procedures, Exercises, Exam

The lectures are recorded, and are accessible on this webpage for a duration of one week. However, the lecture notes will remain accessible indefinitely.

Every week we provide you with exercises. The exercise sessions are held online. The students are split into small groups, and the members of each group work together. At the end of the session, for each exercise, a student from a group presents their solution to the rest of the students. In addition to the exercise sessions, we encourage you to solve the exercises in written form and to hand in your solutions to the teaching assistant. Your solutions are thoroughly commented, but they do not count towards your final grade. The motivation to work on the exercises stems from your interest in the topic (and possibly also the desire to succeed in the exam).

In addition, you receive three homework assignments during the semester. The homework is to be solved in written form and you have two weeks of time to return your solutions/reports, typeset in LaTeX. In contrast to the exercises, these assignments do count towards the final grade: Your three grades will account for 10% of your final grade each. Solving the homework in teams is not allowed. Besides one or two exercises, the homework may include a small research project, or you are asked to give a short talk about your last small research project. The format of this talk will be determined by the number of students who register for the course.

There is an oral exam of 30 minutes during the examination period. Your final grade consists to 70% of the grade for the exam and to 30% of the grade for the homework assignments.
You are expected to learn proofs discussed in the lecture, should be able to explain their basic ideas and reproduce more details on demand. You should also be able to give a short presentation on any topic treated throughout the course. One of the questions given to you during the exam is to solve one of the exercises posed throughout the semester. Roughly half an hour before the exam you get to know the exercise to be solved and one topic that you will be questioned about in particular, that is, you have 30 minutes preparation time. For this preparation, paper and pencil will be provided. You may not use any other material, like books or notes.

For PhD students, the same rules apply for obtaining credit points as for all other participants. Taking the exam and achieving an overall grade of at least 4.0 (computed as a weighted average of grades for homework and the oral final exam as detailed above) qualifies for receiving credits. In order to comply with new regulations recently issued by the department, merely attending the course and/or handing in exercises is no longer sufficient.

Complementary Courses & Semester/Master/Diploma Theses

This course is complemented by a seminar Geometry: Combinatorics & Algorithms in the following spring semester. After having completed the course, it is possible to do a semester, master or diploma thesis in the area. Students are also welcome at our graduate seminar.

Literature and Links

Last modified: Thu Aug 8 13:20:08 CEST 2019 by Nicolas Grelier. Nu Html Checker