James A. Foster

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CS 490: Theory of Computation

Fall 2000

The theory of computation investigates the nature of computation, apart from any particular computing devices or programming languages. It develops mathematical models of computation and uses these to investigate and characterize the inherent limitations of computing.


bullet I have posted homework solutions and Test 1 solutions on the "Details" webpage.  The current homework is there, too.
bullet I have posted lecture notes for minimizing DFAs
bullet I have posted homework on the "Details" webpage
bullet See syllabus, notes page, or here for handouts on Friday's (LN 11) lecture.
bullet New office hours: MT 10:30-11:30 (open), M 11:30-12:30 (distance education).
bullet We have a TA!  See below.
bullet See the Course Materials page for announcements, homework, tests, lecture notes, and all the rest of that day-to-day jazz.

Office hours

MT 10:30-11:30 (open), M 11:30-12:30 (distance education).

Instructor and TA

Instructor: James Foster (foster@cs.uidaho.edu)

The TA for this course is Kelly Sales.  Kelly's office is JEB 1, and office hours are MWF 3:30-5:00. Kelly's email is cs490@inetsystem.com.


Here is the course syllabus

Time and place

9:30-10:20 MWF in JEB 26, and through Engineering Video Outreach


John C. Martin, Introduction to Languages and the Theory of Computation, McGraw-Hill, 1991

Miscellaneous Information


Course Objectives

bullet To recognize a computation
bullet To be able to give a mathematically precise characterization of computation
bullet To understand the limitations of various models of computation, which includes realizing that some well-stated problems cannot be solved by any algorithm.

Course Activities

bullet Lectures
bullet The student will be given exercises on a regular basis. These will not be graded homework assignments. However, students are strongly advised to work through all exercise assignments.
bullet Take three examinations, including a cumulative final.


Grading: A "C" means you demonstrate understanding of the material, a "B" means you understand all the material and can use it, an "A" means you understand and can use the material extremely well. Notice that a "C" is average. I will average exam scores to determine this, and use my own purely subjective assessment of your knowledge. Homework will be used as a tie-breaker when exam scores are inadequate.


Last Updated 01/13/2003 15:56 -0800