Assignment 2: Comparing List Implementations


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SYSC 2100 (A)
Assignment 2: Comparing List Implementations

One of the recurring themes in the course is that the same abstract data type can be implemented in different
ways, using different underlying data structures. The choice of data structures and algorithms however does have
an impact on the performance/efficiency of the implemented abstract data type. While we haven’t formally
introduced the notions of algorithm complexity yet, we already discussed how different choices for a list (linked
structure or array) impacts the efficiency of specific operations. In this assignment, you are to experimentally
confirm that indeed the choice of a specific implementation for a given abstract data type impacts the runtime
performance, even when giving the same results.
We will assume that a string is implemented as a List of characters. Write a program that prompts the user for a
file name and opens that text file. Example text files to be used as input are provided on cuLearn (two books, one
the English translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the other Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities). You
can also download other large text files from repositories such as Project Gutenberg ( Then
also prompt the user for a string A. Read in the text file string by string and determine whether each string in that
text file contains your input string A as a substring. Count how often this is the case and display that number at
the end. Also measure the time that elapsed to process the complete file and display this as well.
To show the difference between the various list implementations of the ADT List provided in the Java
Collections Framework (ArrayList and LinkedList), repeat the task, the first time representing all strings
as an ArrayList and the second time as a LinkedList. Substring matching is a surprisingly complex
problem (when striving for efficiency), we may revisit this later once we introduced more ADTs. For the time
being, use the following brute-force substring matching algorithm (it is okay if in your solution you do not declare
findBrute() to be static). The code can also be downloaded as a textfile from cuLearn.
* Returns the lowest index at which substring pattern begins in text (or
* else -1).
private static int findBrute(List<Character text, List<Character pattern) {
int n = text.size();
int m = pattern.size();
for (int i = 0; i <= n – m; i++) { // try every starting index
// within text
int k = 0; // k is index into pattern
while (k < m && text.get(i + k) == pattern.get(k))
// kth character of pattern matches
if (k == m) // if we reach the end of the pattern,
return i; // substring text[i..i+m-1] is a match
return -1; // search failed
Your program should produce output similar to the one shown below (using Les Miserable as input file and
Javert as substring). Obviously the timing is hardware-dependent and may well differ on different computers
and implementations. To not bias your expectations, I’ve xxx-ed out the values, your final solution should provide
some actual measurement here… ☺. The counts though should be the same across all platforms and
Please enter the path for the input file: LesMis.txt
Enter the pattern to look for: Javert
Using ArrayLists: 457 matches, derived in xxx.x milliseconds.
Using LinkedLists: 457 matches, derived in xxx.x milliseconds.
1. Make sure that you use the correct data types (LinkedList and ArrayList) for both the string being
read in from the file and the string A, where appropriate.
2. To measure elapsed time, use System.currentTimeMillis() twice: once before you start
processing the input file, once after. The difference between these two timestamps gives you the elapsed
time in milliseconds and provides a rough approximation for the algorithm runtime.
3. We use strings in the common sense of the word: sequences of characters separated by whitespace. So
you need to read in and parse the textfile accordingly.
4. When matching the substring, it has to be an exact, case-sensitive match. For example, upper and lower
case characters are not matching each other.
Bonus question (no bonus marks): Are the results surprising? If there is a difference in execution time, can you
explain why?
Submission Requirements: Submit your assignment (the source files) using cuLearn. Your program should
compile and run as is in the default lab environment, and the code should be well documented. Submit all files
without using any archive or compression as separate files. The main program should be called, if you need to define additional classes etc., you are free to name them according to your
own needs. But the TA(s) should be able to run your application by entering java CounSubstrings on a
Marks will be based on:
• Completeness of your submission
• Correct solution to the problem
• Following good coding style
• Sufficient and high-quality in-line comments
• Adhering to the submission requirements (in particular the naming convention)
The due date is based on the time of the cuLearn server and will be strictly enforced. If you are concerned about
missing the deadline, here is a tip: multiple submissions are allowed. So you can always submit a (partial)
solution early, and resubmit an improved solution later. This way, you will reduce the risk of running late, for
whatever reason (slow computers/networks, unsynchronized clocks, failure of the Internet connection at home,
In cuLearn, you can manage the submission until the deadline, taking it back, deleting/adding files, etc, and
resubmitting it. The system also provides online feedback whether you submitted something for an assignment. It
may take a while to learn the submission process, so I would encourage you to experiment with it early and
contact the TA(s) in case you have problems, as only assignments properly and timely submitted using cuLearn
will be marked and will earn you assignment credits.

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