Algorithms and OOD (CSC 207 2013F) : Labs

Laboratory: Priority Queues

Summary: In this laboratory, you will have an opportunity to ground your understanding of priority queues, particularly of the array-based implementation of queues.

Required Code Files:


a. Add up the number of vowels in the first names of all of your group members. Remember if that number is even or odd.

b. Review the reading on linear structures.

c. Review the reading on priority queues.

d. If you haven't already done so, fork and clone the repo at If you have forked and cloned that repository, pull changes from the upstream repository using commands something like the following.

$ git commit
$ git remote add upstream
$ git pull upstream master

You may also have to fix any merge conflicts. After fixing the merge conflicts, try something like the following to note that you have resolved those conflicts.

$ git add
$ git add
$ git commit


Exercise 1: Code Reading, Revisited

a. Read through our interface for priority queues,

b. Read through the documentation on the standard Java implementation of priority queues, available at

c. Note how you would write a wrapper class (formally, an adapter class) to make the built in priority queues behave like our priority queues.

d. Look at to see how our implementation matches your design.

Exercise 2: Basic Experiments

Look at PriorityQueueExpt. Summarize what the queue should look like at each step of the first series of procedure calls. You may also want to revisit the ReportingLinearStructure class.

Run PriorityBasedQueueExpt and see if you get the output that you expect.

Exercise 3: Changing the Ordering

a. Revise PriorityQueueExpt so that the queue gives highest priority to the longest strings. That is, get should return the longest remaining string.

b. Revise PriorityQueueExpt so that the queue gives highest priority to the alphabetically first string.

Exercise 4: Code Reading, Revised

Read through You will note that the iterator is not yet implemented and that prioritization is not yet implemented.

Make some notes to yourself as to how you might finish implementing the put and get methods.

Exercise 5: Implementing Priority Queues

As the reading noted, there are two basic strategies for implementing priority queues in arrays.

  • You can keep the values in order from lowest priority to highest priority. In this case, the put method must ensure that the elements in the array are stored in order. (You can probably use a variant of the insert method from insertion sort to achieve that goal.)
  • You can keep the values in arbitrary order and search for the highest-priorty element whenever we call get or peek. (You can probalby use a variant of the indexOfSmallest method from selection sort to achieve that goal.)

If you came up with an even number in the preparation, use the first of the two approaches. If you came up with an odd number, use the second of the two approaches.

For Those with Extra Time

If you are fortunate enough to have extra time, do some of the following:

  • Implement array-based priority queues using whichever approach you did not use in exercise 5.
  • Make your priority queues expand automatically when someone tries to add an element beyond the initial capacity.
  • Implement linked priority queues.
  • Implement randomized queues, which give you an “unpredictable” element of the queue each time you call get. The easy approach is to simply pick a random position each time. However, that approach does not guarantee that peek returns the same value as the subsequent get. Start with the easy approach, and then see if you can get peek and get to work in synchrony.

Copyright (c) 2013 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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