Coms 461 Syllabus - Fall 2008

Dr. Robb T. Koether
Office: Bagby 114
Office phone: 223-6207
Home phone: 392-8604
Office hours: 1:30 - 3:20 MWF, 1:30 - 2:20 T; other hours by appointment.
Web page:
Theory of Computation


The class meets in B 120 at 10:30 MWF.

The text for the course is Introduction to the Theory of Computation, 2nd ed., by Michael Sipser.

The web page for this course is at


There will be several computer programs, seven homework assignments, three tests, and a final exam. In the final average, these will have the following weights:

Category Weight
Computer programs 15%
Homework problems 25%
Test average 40%
Final exam 20%

All outside work is due at the beginning of class on the due date. No late work will be accepted.

Computer Programs (15%)

You will write several "computer programs." I have written three programs: UniversalDFA.cpp, UniversalDPDA.cpp, and UniversalTM.cpp. These programs accept a description of a simple machine (a Determininistic Finite Automata, a Deterministic Pushdown Automata, and a Turing Machine, respectively) and then they simulate that machine on the given input. You will write descriptions of a few of each kind of machine and test them using these programs. These assignments are pledged.

Homework Assignments (25%)

Homework will be assigned and collected from time to time. Most of the problems will be taken from the book, but some may be from other sources.

Tests (40%)

You should make every conceivable effort to be present and prepared for an hour test. If you do not feel that you are prepared, you must take the test anyway. The only valid excuses for missing a test are serious illnesses and unavoidable emergencies, which can be verified. If you foresee that you must miss a test, then you should make arrangements, before the absence, to take the test. If you miss a test for a reason that is less than compelling, you will not be allowed to take the test later. If you miss a test, it is essential that you contact me and make arrangements at the earliest possible moment. Failure to follow this policy will invalidate any excuse.

There will be three tests, given on the following dates:

Test Date
#1 Fri, Sep 26
#2 Fri, Oct 24
#3 Fri, Nov 21

Final exam (20%)

The final exam will be cumulative. It will be given on Tue, Dec 16 at 9:00 a.m. in Bagby 120. Everyone must take the final exam and it will not be rescheduled.


Attendance will be checked at the beginning of each class. If you arrive late, you will be counted absent. If that happens and you would like to be marked present, see me after class. Otherwise, late arrivals and absences will all count as absences. When assigning final grades, attendance will be taken into account.

Absences Action
0 - 2 Grade bonus (1 "part" of a grade)
3 - 4 Neutral
5 - 6 Grade penalty (1 "part" of a grade)
> 6 Withdrawal (WF)

A warning letter will be sent out after the 6th absence.

The last day to drop a course without a grade of WF is Oct 17.

This web page is maintained by Robb T. Koether
Date of last modification: Aug 26, 2008

Return to the Coms 461 home page