Introduction to Computer Science Theory, 4003-380-03, 20101

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the theory of computation, including formal languages, grammars, automata theory, computability, and complexity.

Course Outcomes

  1. Students should demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in formal language theory, grammars, automata theory, computability theory, and complexity theory.
  2. Students should be able to relate practical problems to languages, automata, computability, and complexity.
  3. Students should demonstrate an increased level of mathematical sophistication.
  4. Students should demonstrate an understanding of and be able to apply mathematical and formal techniques for solving problems in computer science.

Course Web Page


Ivona Bezakova
bldg. 70, room 3645
Email: my_initials at (please replace my_initials with ib)

Office hours:

Asking questions via email seems to work well for many people.

Theory tutoring center:

Their office hours will be posted here. Staffed with very qualified students, the center is a highly recommended venue for getting help with the course.


Tuesday/Thursday, 10:00-11:50am, 70-1620.

Required Book

Michael Sipser, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, Second edition, Thompson Course Technology, 2006.

Other Materials

Slides and information about reading and homework assignments, exams, etc. will be linked from the course web page.


To refresh your memory on discrete math, read Chapter 0.

The Work

Discrete Math Quiz

There will be a discrete math quiz on Thursday of week 1 (September 9, 2010) at the start of class. The quiz will test two skills: 1. reading a mathematical definition and answering a basic question related to the definition, and 2. constructing a proof by mathematical induction. The quiz will count as the zero-th homework. To give you an idea about the quiz, here is a sample old discrete math quiz. I cannot guarantee that the actual problems will be of the same difficulty as the sample quiz but hopefully the format of the sample quiz will be nevertheless helpful.

Homework Assignments

There are eight homework assignments (not counting the discrete math quiz), one per week except for weeks 1 and 6. Homeworks are due on Fridays at 4pm, and are posted at least 6 days before they are due. The actual assignments will be available on the homework, reading, and slides page.

Unless it is specifically stated otherwise, you may work on and submit your homework in groups of 1 or 2. If you choose to work as a group of 2, both of you should contribute significantly to the solution for every question. You should submit only one copy of the homework with both your names on it. All authors have to be able to explain all solutions. Whether you submit on your own or with a partner, discussing homework with your fellow students is encouraged. However, after such discussions, all notes must be discarded, blackboards erased, and every group must write up their solutions in private without further consultations with your classmates or any written material other than your class notes, materials handed out in class, the textbook or this webpage. For every problem discussed with other students, state their names and briefly sketch the extent of your discussions (e.g. "solved together", or "clarified problem statement"). You are not allowed to look up the answers to your homeworks.

Your homework submissions must be submitted by Friday, 4pm sharp. You have the following submission options:

Clearly state your name(s) and section. I will not accept late assignments for any reason. I will drop the two lowest homework grades (out of the nine homework scores - eight homeworks and one discrete math quiz). However, a zero for cheating will not be dropped.

I guarantee answering homework questions sent before 10:00pm on Thursday. I will not answer any questions sent after 10am on Friday. (This means that if you send a question late on Thursday or on Friday before 10am, I'll try to answer it but I cannot guarantee that I will always have the option to reply to your mail.)

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will take place on Thursday of week 6 (October 14th), in class. More information will be available on the midterm website about a week before the exam. The midterm is closed book and notes but you may bring one sheet of letter-sized paper with your own hand-written notes.

Final Exam

The final exam is scheduled on November 19th, 2010, 12:30-2:30pm, room TBA. The final is semi-cumulative. It is closed book and notes but you may bring one sheet of letter-sized paper with your own hand-written notes.

Exams can not be made up except for real emergencies in which case proper documentation (like a doctor's note) will be required. If at all possible, you should contact me prior to the exam. Oversleeping, cars that don't start etc. do not constitute a valid excuse.


Numerical grades will be converted to letter grades according to the following scale:
> 88%: A; 77%-88%: B; 66%-77%: C; 55%-66%: D; < 55%: F.
However, your final grade will never be more than one letter grade higher than the average of your midterm and final. In addition, if the average of your midterm and final is below 55%, you fail the course.


In addition to all of the usual support services RIT and the CS department offer, the CS theory faculty are offering their own tutoring service, featuring very qualified CS students. The tutoring takes place in the CS mentoring center (70-3660). For hours, see the theory tutoring page.

Disputing Your Grade

If you feel that an error was made in grading your homework, quiz, or exam, you have one week from the moment the graded work was handed back to dispute your grade. All grading issues should be taken up with me; do not discuss grading issues with graders or tutors!
All grades will be posted on myCourses.

Academic Honesty

The DCS Policy on Academic Honesty will be enforced.
You should only submit work that is completely your own. Failure to do so counts as academic dishonesty and so does being the source of such work. Submitting work that is in large part not completely your own work is a flagrant violation of basic ethical behavior and will minimally be punished with failing the course.