COT 4420: Theory of Computation

Prerequisites: MAD 3105

Spring Semester 2018


Course Objective:

The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of basic concepts in the theory of computation. Students will learn about a variety of issues in the mathematical development of computer science theory, particularly finitary representations for languages and machines, as well as gain a more formal understanding of algorithms and procedures. At the end of this course, the student will:

Be able to construct finite state machines and the equivalent regular expressions.

Be able to prove the equivalence of languages described by finite state machines, regular grammars and regular expressions.

Be able to construct pushdown automata and the equivalent context free grammars.

Be able to prove the equivalence of languages described by pushdown automata and context free grammars.

Be able to construct Turing machines.

Be able to define the Chomsky Hierarchy.

Be able to have a basic understanding of the P = NP problem.


Course Description:

Theory of automata and formal languages. Finite state automata, Moore and Mealy machines, regular expressions and languages, deterministic and non-deterministic pushdown automata, context free languages, context sensitive languages, normal forms, Turing machines, recursive and recursively enumerable sets, undecidability, introduction to computability and complexity theory. 



Sudhir Aggarwal

Room 263, Love Building

Office hours: Tuesdays 1pm – 3pm.


Teaching Assistant:

Ms. Mukadder Sodek

Office: Biology Unit 1 Room 334

Office hours: Thursdays and Fridays 1pm – 2:30 pm



Required Text:

1. [Linz] Peter Linz. An Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata, Latest Edition, Jones and Bartlett. (Required; however previous editions ok also).



Most communication will be via this website or information given in class. Canvas will only be used to post raw scores of assignments / tests. All other information grades etc. on Canvas may not be correct. Do not email or text anything via Canvas either as it will not be answered.



Tuesdays and Thursdays

 11:00 am – 12:15 pm 

BEL 0021


Lecture Notes and Information

Week #


Meeting Days

Reading Assignments & Information

Class Notes & Homework Assignments


January 9, 2018



January 11, 2018



Read Chapter 1 in text

Start reading Lecture1


Read Chapter 11.1 in text. Finish reading Lecture 1


An interesting video


Supplementary lectures are for your convenience only





Homework 1: Due January 23, 2018


How Big is Infinity?






January 16, 2018




January 18, 2018


Finish reading Lecture 1 related readings. Start reading lecture 2


Continue reading Lecture 2.



January 23, 2018



January 25 2018


Continue reading Lecture 2.



Start reading Chapter 2.1 in test and Lecture 3

Homework 2: Due February 6, 2018


Lecture 3-regular languages


January 30, 2018



February 1, 2018


Finish reading Lecture 2

Continue reading Lecture 3


Read Chapter 3.1 in text and Chapters 2.2-2.4





February 6, 2018






February 8, 2018


Start reading Chapter 3.2 – 3.3





Continue reading Lecture 3

Homework 3: Due February 22, 2018









February 13, 2018



February 15, 2018


Finish reading Lecture 3

Finish reading Chapter 3


Start reading Lecture 4 (ignore pages 60-65) and Chapter 4 in text




Lecture4-properties of regular languages


February 20, 2018




February 22, 2018

Finish Lecture 4 & Chapter 4




Review & Homework 3 Review








February 27, 2018


March 1, 2018


Midterm 1


Start reading Lecture 5 and read Chapter 5 in text





March 6, 2018



March 8, 2018


Continue reading Lecture 5 and read Chapter 6 in text.


Finish reading Lecture 5 and Chapters 5 and 6.


Homework 4: Due March 27, 2018


March 13, 2018


March 15, 2018


Spring Break No Classes


Spring Break No Classes




March 20, 2018



March 22, 2018


Start reading Chapter 7 in text and Lecture 6.


Continue readings: Lecture 6 and Chapter 7.




Homework 5: Due April 5, 2018


March 27, 2018




March 29, 2018


Finish Lecture 6 & Chapter 7 in text.  Start reading Lecture 7 and Chapter 8 in text


Finish Lecture 7 & Chapter 8


Lecture7- Properties of CFLs



April 3, 2018



April 5, 2018


Finish all readings. Review homework 4.


Review of material and homework 5.

Solutions to Homework 4 and Homework 5 posted on Canvas










April 10, 2018




April 12, 2018


Midterm 2

Read section 1 of Copeland’s analysis


Start reading Lecture 8 and Chapter 9 in text


Church-Turing Thesis - Copeland


Lecture8-Turing machines


April 17, 2018










April 19, 2018


Continue reading Lecture 8 and start reading Chapter 10 in text


Problem set 6 is due April 26, 2018, for CGS5429 students only and will be graded P/F. For COT4420 students it is for review & not to be turned in.


Finish previous readings.
Read 11.1 and 11.4 in text






Homework 6: Due April 26, 2018, for CGS 5429 students only


April 24, 2018





April 26, 2018


Read 12.1 in text. Scan Chapter 14 in text. Will complete Lecture8. Then start review.


Review continued



Examples solution: 1c, 2d, 3c, 4b, 5c, 6e, 7d










Exam Week

April 30, 2018

FINAL EXAM, Monday, April 30, 2018

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm





1.    There will be two midterm tests (25% each) and a final (25%).

2.    There will be five graded problem sets during the semester (25% total). It is very important to complete all problem sets and do them by yourself. You are not to work in groups. You may talk to me, the teaching assistant, or other students to help you get started on a problem, but you must do the problems by yourself. You should also check the Academic Honor Policy below which is applicable in all you academic work including in this course.

3.    The midterm dates will be announced in class. The final will be during finals week. Tests may include material covered in earlier tests.




The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University's expectations for the integrity of students' academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process.  Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to ". . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University." 

Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at:

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:
(1) register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
(2) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type.  This should be done during the first week of class.

This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the:

Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises, call to active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. These absences will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students who have a valid excuse. Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.

Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.