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Walter Schnyder

Associate Teaching Professor

Schnyder, Walter


Office Location

105-107 Forsyth Street
132F Nightingale Hall
Boston, MA 02115

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Walter Schnyder, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Research Interests

  • Graph algorithms and algebraic graph theory
  • Combinatorial algorithms


  • PhD in mathematics, ETH Zürich
  • MS in mathematics, ETH Zürich
  • BS in mathematics, ETH Zürich
  • BS in physics, ETH Zürich


Walter Schnyder is an associate teaching professor at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences. He earned his PhD from ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Schnyder’s research areas include complexity theory and graphs. He has made significant contributions across combinatorial mathematics and theoretical computer science, most notably his namesake theorem.

Schnyder’s theorem proves that a graph is planar if and only if the dimension of its incidence poset is at most three. Additionally, Schnyder gave the first proof that a planar graph on n vertices could be laid out on a quadratic size grid. Schnyder’s work has inspired the research of many other mathematicians and computer scientists and continues to do so today.

About Walter

Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?

Paris, France and Zürich, Switzerland.

What is your educational background?

I completed high school studies with the French Baccalauréat in Paris, then returned to Zürich, in my home country of Switzerland, for higher education at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, with an initial focus in physics. I completed my undergraduate studies with a bachelor’s in physics and a bachelor’s in mathematics, because my attention had turned to foundations. This course of studies ended with a master’s in mathematics with a focus in logic. I then became interested in computer science, attending the algorithmics seminar of E. Specker and V. Strassen and completed my PhD with the thesis “Algorithms for Normal Forms of Graphs.”

What courses/subjects do you teach?

At other institutions I have taught most of the common undergraduate and graduate theory courses, as well as some applied math courses. At Northeastern I teach:

  • CS1800: Discrete Structures
  • CS3000: Algorithms and Data
  • CS3800: Theory of Computation
  • CS5002: Discrete and Data Structures

What do you enjoy most or find most rewarding about what you teach?

I enjoy interacting with my students. They trust that I am here to help them and that’s what I try to do. The topics I teach are often difficult and going through them is a collaborative process. This collaboration often happens in office hours, and there is no more satisfactory conclusion than seeing it succeed and solve the problem that was brought to me.

My interaction with students also influences the way I teach. Students at Northeastern are focused and interested. They trust me with the responsibility to be part of their learning experience and while they learn from me, I also learn from them and adjust my teaching accordingly.