Update: ReST version of Shellsort, Mergesort, and some KA-style exercises

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shaffer's picture
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Joined: 2009-05-28
Points: 2019

Just want to bring folks up to date on what we have been doing lately.

JSAV continues to progress as Ville can find time from his classes. As we have had more users (I have several students working on implementing prototypes), we have been able to report a number of bugs and refinements that he has fixed, making the whole system more stable. We are starting to hit on some of the tree code, so that should be getting into pretty good shape. Hopefully we will have linked lists before too long.

Check out our progress with using reStructuredText to author modules. I have a fairly complete version of the Shellsort tutorial in place. (I just have that one nasty collection of Khan Academy-style exercises still to do that involves combining the KA infrastructure with JSAV. It should be coming soon.) You can see our current status at: http://algoviz.org/OpenDSA/RST/build/html/ . Eric should be able to start soon on transferring our old preprocessor support to integrate with Sphinx and the reST implementation for the modules. Right now, he is working on a proof-of-concept interface for letting instructors select modules for their version of a textbook.

Various students are working on a number of projects, including: Selection sort visualization, insertion sort visualization, converting our old Hashing Tutorial main applet to JavaScript, k-d tree visualization, Huffman coding visualization, Hashing KA-style exercises, converting the Khan Academy student tracking infrastructure to for our use, and a graphical interface for writing simple questions and outputting them in KA exercise infrastructure format. Some of this can be found already in our repositories, some of it will be made available in the near future.

At the moment, I am thinking that we will use this summer to create a full end-to-end prototype Sorting tutorial, complete with visualizations and exercies, integrated with support for students logging in and having their progress through the modules/exercises tracked. The hope is to then deploy this in my Data Structures class in the Fall for an initial round of classroom studies. Sorting seems like a natural since it is about the right size (would be used for about two weeks of class) and we already have several visualizations in hand. If you have an interest in maybe using this in your class during the coming year, let me know. I know much of this is still a bit at the vapor-ware stage, but there should be a lot more to show in May.

I am also happy to announce that we have received notification that our NSF TUES proposal will be funded, hopefully starting next month. This is a joint proposal between myself at Virginia Tech, Tom Naps from University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, and Richard Baraniuk who leads Rice University’s Connexions project. Thank you to NSF both for the much-needed financial support and the increased recognition that this should bring to the whole effort.