COMP 454 – Automata, Languages and Computation – Spring 2024

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  • Instructor: Michael Soltys <>
  • Course Outline: This course is an introduction to the theory of computation, from the point of view of languages over finite alphabets. We are going to start with Regular Languages, and the equivalence of several definitions: Finite Automata (deterministic and non-deterministic) and Regular Expressions (and applications to text search). The Pumping Lemma, and other approaches to showing that languages are not regular. We will continue with Context-free languages, and again the equivalence of several definitions: Context-free grammars and Push-Down Automata. We will finish with a version of the Pumping Lemma for Context-free languages. The final topic will be the Church-Turing thesis, and decidability.
  • Lectures: W 7:00-8:00 online
  • Textbook: Introduction to the Analysis of Algorithms (Chapter 8), by Michael Soltys
  • Grading: 10 quizzes (best 8 selected), worth 5% each, and 4 assignments, worth 5% each, and two midterms, worth 10% each and a final exam worth 20%.
  • Missing or late work policy: Assignments are worth 5 points, and late assignments will have one (1) point deducted for each day they are late (up to five points). Regarding missing quizzes: since best 8 out of 10 quizzes are used for final grade, up to two quizzes can be missed. If more quizzes are missed, or a midterm or final exam is missed, this will be dealt with on a case by case basis, requiring a letter from the students explaining the situation. Please note that in the industry, work has to both meet requirements and be delivered on time.
  • How to avoid plagiarism: Verbal discussions of problems among students are allowed, but you should not show written notes, and you should not leave such discussions with written notes.
  • Attendance: Students are encouraged but not required to attend the lectures. All quizzes, midterms and the final will be written online.
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Course outline

Jan 24Course Introduction8.1
Jan 31DFA8.3.1
Feb 7NFA8.3.2Quiz 1
Feb 14Regular Expressions8.3.3Quiz 2
Feb 21Properties of Regular Languages8.3.4-5Quiz 3
Assignment 1
Feb 28CFG8.4.1Quiz 4
Mar 6PDA8.4.2Quiz 5
Mar 13Midterm 1
Assignment 2
March Break
Mar 27CFG and PDA8.4.2Quiz 6
Apr 3Turing Machines8.5.1Quiz 7
Assignment 3
Apr 10Midterm 2
Apr 17Encodings and Decidable Languages8.5.2
Quiz 8
Apr 24Church-Turing Thesis8.5.4Quiz 9
May 1Undecidable Languages8.5.5Quiz 10
May 8Final Exam

Students with disabilities: Cal State Channel Islands is committed to equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The mission of Disability Accommodation Services is to assist students with disabilities to realize their academic and personal potential. Students with physical, learning, or other disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Accommodation Services office at (805) 437-8510 for personal assistance and accommodations. Please discuss your arrangements with the instructor as soon as possible.