Theory of Computation :: CS 361 / Math 361 :: Fall 2007

announcements :: homework :: readings

Contact Information

Brent Heeringa
Email: heeringa [at] cs [dot] williams [dot] edu
Office: Thompson Chemistry Laboratory 306
Phone: 413.597.4711

Course Information

Course Classroom: Bronfman 103
Course Time: 09.00 - 09.50
Office Hours: Monday 20.00-22.00 and Thursday 10.30-12.00
Teaching Assistant: Kyle Campbell and M. Catalin Iordan
Teaching Assistant Office Hours in TCL 312: Kyle: Tuesday 20.00-22.00. Catalin: Tuesday 22.00-24.00; Thursday 19.00-20.00
Course Text: Introduction to the Theory of Computation by Michael Sipser. The text is available at Water Street Books. Please also note the errata.

Course Description

From the catalog:
This course introduces formal models of computation including finite automata, regular languages, context-free grammars, and Turing machines. These models provide a mathematical basis for the study of computability - the study of what problems can be solved and what problems cannot be solved. Applications to compiler design and program verification will also be covered.
We all have problems. Some problems are easier to solve than others; some are unsolvable. But what is a problem? And what is a solution? In this course, we will develop models of computation that make rigorous the idea of problem and solution. In other words, we will provide a language to describe computation so we can reason about it formally. The models we will develop are easy to describe (think flow charts for toasters and elevators), yet computationally very powerful (we can, for example, use them to find the minimal mileage route for the Williamstown snowplow fleet). The rewarding part is understanding the limitations and power of each model.

Course Grading

Ten homework assignments each worth 5% of your grade. I'll drop the lowest score expecting this covers all extenuating circumstances such as illness and natural disasters. Six pop quizzes (lowest score dropped), each contributing 1% to your grade; a take-home midterm worth 25% of your grade and a 24-hour, cumulative final worth another 25% of your grade.

Some points of clarification: A few notes on the midterm:

Course Announcements

Course Readings

Course Homework

Course Lectures

The following lecture schedule is tentative. It may change based on current events, class interests and progress, and my own whims. Note that lecture notes are not available for download. This is on purpose. I very much want you to create your own set of notes from lecture and not rely on mine.

Course Links and Ephemera