The CS3800 10F Homepage
You have reached the homepage for the Northeastern
University, College of Computer and Information Science,
Fall 2010 session of Theory of Computation, also
known as "CS3800 10F." CS3800 is an undergraduate course
on the theory of computation. This course serves as an
introduction to formal models of languages and
computation. Topics covered include finite automata and
regular languages, pushdown automata and context-free
languages, Turing machines, computability, and
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- Name:Emanuele Viola
- Office:246 West Village H
- Office hours:After class in room 246 West
Village H until 5:30 pm.
- Phone: 373-8298
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Name: Eric Miles
- Office:266 West Village H
- Office hours:Tuesday and Friday 11am-1pm.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lecture: Monday and Wednesday, 2:50 pm -
- Room:West Village H 108.
As important, perhaps, is the material from CS1800,
which itself is a prerequisite for CS2800.
- CS2510, Fundamentals of Computer Science 2
- CS2800, Logic and Computation
Errata for this text are available on-line. If you are concerned that something
in the text might be a typo, please check the errata available here:
Introduction to the Theory of Computation, Second
Edition, by Michael Sisper.
- There will be weekly written assignments, generally handed out on
Wednesdays and due the following Wednesday. Some of the exercises
will be routine, but others will be more challenging. I do not
expect you to solve all of the homework problems, but I hope that you
will benefit from working on the more difficult ones. A few hints
on the homework assignments:
- Start early: Difficult problems are not typically
solved in one sitting. Start early and let the ideas come to you
over the course of a few days.
- Be rigorous: CS3800 is a theory course, and as such,
a certain level of mathematical rigor will be expected in your
- Be concise: Express your solutions at the proper
level of detail. Give enough details to clearly present your
solution, but not so many that the main ideas are obscured.
- Work with others: Some of the problems will be
difficult, and it will often be helpful to discuss them with others.
Feel free to form study groups. However, the idea is for everyone
to understand the problems and experience working through the
solutions, so you may not simply "give" a solution to another
classmate. In particular, each student must write up his or her
own homework solutions and must not read or copy the solutions
of others. If you work with others on a problem, you must note
with whom you discussed the problem at the beginning of your solution
- Homework is due at the beginning of class on the
announced due date. You will be granted one homework extension,
to be used at your discretion, no questions asked. After the
first late assignment, unexcused late assignments will be
penalized 20% per calendar day late. I normally will not
accept assignments after the date on which the following
assignment is due or after the solutions have been handed out,
whichever comes first. If you will have a valid reason for turning
in an assignment late, please see me in advance to obtain
- We will employ a somewhat unusual grading scheme. Each homework
assignment will have n problems, and each problem will
be worth k points. You will be required to attempt any
m problems. (The parameters n, m and
k will vary from assignment to assignment.)
These m problems will be graded
in the usual manner: you will receive full or partial credit out
of k points. You may also choose to attempt the remaining
n-m problems. These problems will be graded as follows.
Say that you would have received a score of j points
if this problem had been graded normally. If j is less than
k/2, then you will receive zero points. Otherwise, you will receive
2j points. Note that attempting extra
problems can only help you.
Your grade on an assignment will be reported by two numbers: the regular-credit points R you obtain and the extra-credit points E you obtain.
Your final grade for that problem set is:
(R + E)/(m*k + E).
Intuitively, getting R regular credit points takes you to the fraction 0 <= R/(m*k) <= 1. Then, solving extra credit problems takes you closer to 1.
The advantage of solving an extra credit problem is usually smaller than that of solving another regular credit problem. Hence you are usually better off declaring regular credit for those problems you are sure about.
- The purpose of this policy is threefold:
- It is designed so as not to penalize you for skipping some
- It is designed to encourage you to attempt all of the problems.
- It is designed specifically to discourage you from writing up long
answers which you suspect are incorrect, in the hopes of picking up a
point or two.
- Note: Your free late assignment and any unexcused
late assignments will only be graded for regular problems. Excused
late assignments (e.g., due to illness) will be graded for
both regular and extra credit.
- There will be a midterm and a final exam. The midterm exam will be held
during a regularly scheduled class period, and the final exam will be held
during finals week. Both exams are open book.
- Homeworks: 50%
- Midterm: 25%
- Final: 25%
- All work submitted for credit must be your own.
- You may discuss the homework problems with your classmates,
the teaching assistant(s), and the professor. You must acknowledge
the people with whom you discussed your work, and you must write
up your own solutions. Any written sources used (apart from the text)
must also be acknowledged; however, you may not consult
any solutions from previous years' assignments whether they are
student or faculty generated.
- Please ask if you have any questions about academic honesty as it
applies to CS3800.
In case you are interested in learning more about theory
of computation, we provide below a few pointers. You do
not need any of the material below for this class. For
this class you only need Sipser's