Fall 2018

CS 4124–Theory of Computation

Welcome | Syllabus | Assignments | Announcements


Professor: Dr. Layne T. Watson
Office: 2000 Torgersen
Phone: (540) 231–7540
Email: laynew@acm.org
Office Hours: 122 McBryde Hall, 13:15–14:15 MW, and by appointment in 2000 Torgersen.

Graduate Teaching Assistant:

Name: Eslam Hussein Eslam Hussein
Office: 106 McBryde
Email: ehussein@vt.edu
Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 15:00–19:00.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:


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Here are two printable versions of the official syllabus: in PostScript and in PDF. The following is an abbreviated version for your convenience; in case of a discrepancy, the linked version is the correct one.

CS4124 Theory of Computation       CRN 82724: MW 16:00–17:15 in SURGE 109

Instructor: L. T. Watson, 2000 Torg, 231-7540, laynew@acm.org

Office Hours: 13:15–14:15 MW in MCB 122, and by appointment in 2000 Torg.

Prerequisites: Math 3134 or Math 3034.

Text: J. E. Savage, Models of Computation, Addison-Wesley, 1998. Printed textbook corrections. Corrected online edition.

Topics Covered:

Logic circuits, Boolean function normal forms, prefix computations, arithmetic, circuit complexity, finite-state machines, random-access machines, Turing machines, simulation, pushdown automata, regular and context-free languages, models of computability, reducibility and unsolvability, recursive function theory, parallel computation, space-time tradeoffs.

Grading: FINAL GRADE will be the average of two in-class exams (50%), a final examination (25%), and homework and class participation (25%). All questions regarding grades must be raised within three days of the date the assignment is returned.

Final Exam: 13:05–15:05, Friday, December 07, 2018, SURGE 109.


Clark and Cowell,
Programs, Machines, and Computation, McGraw Hill, 1976.

D. I. A. Cohen,
Introduction to Computer Theory, 2nd Ed., Wiley, 1997.

Davis, Sigal, and Weyuker,
Computability, Complexity, and Languages, 2nd Ed., Academic Press, 1994.

Denning, Dennis, Qualitz,
Machines, Languages, and Computation, Prentice-Hall, 1978.

Introduction to the Theory of Finite State Machines, McGraw-Hill, 1962.

Introducing the Theory of Computation, Jones and Bartlett, 2008.

Hopcroft, Ullman,
Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation, Addison-Wesley,

Automata Theory, Machines, and Languages, McGraw-Hill, 1972.

Kfoury, Moll, Arbib,
A Programming Approach to Computability, Springer-Verlag, 1982.

Mathematical Theory of Computation, McGraw-Hill, 1974.

Elementary Computability, Formal Languages, and Automata, Prentice Hall, 1982.

Computation: Finite and Infinite Machines, Prentice-Hall, 1967.

B. M. Moret,
The Theory of Computation, Addison-Wesley, 1998.

Theory of Recursive Functions and Effective Computability, McGraw-Hill, 1967.

R. G. Taylor,
Models and Computation and Formal Languages, Oxford, 1998.

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All problems are from the text unless otherwise indicated. All questions regarding grades must be raised within three days of the date the assignment is returned. Assignments are due at the beginning of class (16:00) on the due dates. See the syllabus files linked above for problem point values and which problems are extra credit.

Due 08/22/2018: 1.3, 1.5, 1.10, 1.13.

Due 08/29/2018: 1.14, 1.18, 1.19, 1.21.

Due 09/05/2018: 2.3, 2.5, 2.8, 2.9.

Due 09/12/2018: 2.11, 2.12, 2.13.

Due 09/26/2018: 2.17, 2.18, 2.20, 2.26.

Due 10/10/2018: 3.4, 3.7, 3.17, 3.20.

Due 10/24/2018: 3.23, 3.30, 3.34.

Due 10/31/2018: 4.5, 4.9, 4.17, 4.18.

Due 11/07/2018: 4.22, 4.24, 4.25, 4.32, 4.47.

Due 12/03/2018: 5.12, 5.13, 5.17, 5.18, 5.24, 5.25.

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All versions of the textbook, hard and soft cover, are the same. The publisher erroneously failed to use the corrections when reprinting the book. The author profoundly apologizes. See the textbook corrections for printed copies of the book, or use the corrected online version.

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L. T. Watson <laynew@acm.org>
Last modified: Tue Aug 14 13:01:29 EDT 2018