Hi There!

I'm Dan Schlegel, an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at SUNY Oswego

CSC221 – Spring 2017

Foundations of Computer Science


Prof. Daniel R. Schlegel, 395 Shineman Center, daniel.schlegel@oswego.edu
Office hours: Tuesday 3-4PM, Wednesday 9-10AM, Friday 2-3PM and by appointment.
Section 800: TR 9:35-10:55am, Shineman 175
Section 810: TR 11:10-12:35pm, Shineman 175

Course Description:

This course will provide students with a broad perspective of computer science and will acquaint them with various formal systems on which modern computer science is based. Students will be instructed in the basics of theoretical computer science, with an emphasis on application of the theory in various subdomains of computer science. The course will cover fundamental topics such as finite state machines, regular and context-free languages, Turing machines, and computational complexity.


Critchlow, Carol, and David Eck. “Foundations of Computation.”, v.2.3.1 (2011). Available at: http://math.hws.edu/FoundationsOfComputation/

Lehman, Eric, F Thomson Leighton, and Albert R Meyer. “Mathematics for Computer Science”, v.6.16.2016 (2016). Available at: http://www.cse.cuhk.edu.hk/~andrejb/engg2440/mcs.pdf

Useful Resources:

Useful symbols to know

Attendance Policy and Classroom Etiquette:

As per college policy, attendance in all sessions is obligatory. If you cannot attend a class meeting due to religious, athletic, health related circumstance, or circumstance of particular hardship, please notify me in advance via email. Please be ready to present proof, if necessary. Cell phones shouldn’t be used during lecture, and laptops should only be used for taking notes (I don’t recommend this). If use of any electronics becomes districting to other students I reserve the right to discontinue the allowance of their use.


All assignments will be completed with a partner of your choosing. If you cannot find a partner, let me know and I will match you up. There will be 6 to 8 assignments, due typically within a week of assignment. Some more significant programming projects will be given more time. Late assignments will not be accepted and will be given a grade of 0 for both students. Submission will be via Blackboard.


It is expected that each person (or group if working in pairs for an exercise) participate during each class. As discussed before, attendance is required. Each assignment task will be assigned a point value (generally some multiple of 3 depending on difficulty), where the following scheme will be used in grading it:

0 – Did not attempt / No serious attempt
1 – Mostly incorrect solution
2 – Somewhat incorrect solution
3 – Perfect solution

If the problem is a multiple of 3, then intermediate scores will be given as appropriate. The total points received on all assignments will then be summed and divided by the points possible and scaled as appropriate according to the percentages given below. Exams will be graded in the same way as the assignments.

Midterm Exam20%
Final Exam20%

The default grading for the course will be along the university’s standard grading curve:

A: 93-100C+: 77-79
A-: 90-92C: 73-76
B+: 87-89C-: 70-72
B: 83-86D+: 67-69
B-: 80-82D: 60-66
 E: 0-59

A more generous curve may be used, but should not be expected.


During the semester we will aim to cover the following 8 topics, with the course generally split into two parts.

Part 1

Discrete Structures
Functions + Relations
Induction + Recursion
Formal Languages

Part 2

Finite State Machines
Languages + Grammars

The course schedule as follows is only a draft. It is expected to change, but changes will be announced in class. Lecture slides/notes will be maintained on Blackboard.

1Tuesday1/24First day of class
Discrete Structures - Sets
Readings: MCS 4.1
Thursday1/26Discrete Structures - Sets & Lists
Java HashSet Example
Readings: FC 2.4-2.5
Wednesday2/1Add deadline
Thursday2/2Math vs. Computer Functions
Assignment 1 on Blackboard - Due 2/9 11:59PM
Thursday2/9Formal Logic
Readings: Suppes Chapter 1 (See Blackboard)
Friday2/10Drop deadline
4Tuesday2/14Formal Logic
Using Truth Tables to Analyze Arguments
Readings: Peter Suber's Truth-functional propositional logic translation tips
Thursday2/16Review of Assignment 1; Proof Theory
5Tuesday2/21Proof Theory Continued
Assignment 2 on Blackboard - Due 2/28 at the beginning of class
Thursday2/23Proof Theory Continued
6Tuesday2/28Predicate Logic
Thursday3/2Review for Midterm
Midterm Study Guide
7Tuesday3/7Midterm Exam
8Tuesday3/14Spring recess - no class
Thursday3/16Spring recess - no class
Assignment 3 on Blackboard - Due 3/28 11:59PM
Readings: Recursion, Recursion Examples
Thursday3/23Recursion and Induction
Readings: FoC Section 1.9
10Tuesday3/28Recursion and Induction - Tower of Hanoi
Thursday3/30Formal Languages and Regular Expressions
Readings: FoC 3.1-3.3
11Tuesday4/4Regular Expressions in Java
Assignment 4 on Blackboard - Due 4/11 11:59PM
Readings: Regular Expressions Tutorial; FoC 3.4
Thursday4/6Deterministic Finite Automata
12Tuesday4/11Non-Deterministic Finite Automata
Readings: FoC 3.5
Thursday4/13Finite-State Transducers
Readings: FoC 4.1-4.3
Assignment 5 on Blackboard - Due 4/25, Beginning of Class
Readings:FoC 4.4
Thursday4/20Class Cancelled (Dan @ ABET)
14Tuesday4/25Pushdown Automata
Readings: FoC Chapter 5; My CSE111 Notes on TMs; Wikipedia article on Automata-based programming
Thursday4/27Turing Machines
Assignment 6 on Blackboard - Due 5/4, Beginning of Class
Readings Rapaport, William J., Philosophy of Computer Science Chapter 8 - A walkthrough of Turing's original paper
15Tuesday5/2TMs / Computability - Walking through Turing's paper
Thursday5/4Last day of class
Walking through Turing's paper
Final Exam Study Guide
Finals WeekTuesday5/9Section 810 Final Exam 10:30AM-12:30PM - Shineman 175
Finals WeekThursday5/11Section 800 Final Exam 8AM-10AM - Shineman 175

Academic Integrity:

While it is acceptable to discuss general approaches with your fellow students, the work you turn in must be your own. If you have any problems doing the assignments, consult the instructor. Please be sure to read the webpage, “Academic Integrity“, which spells out all the details of this, and related policies. See my page on plagiarism for an explanation of what I consider cheating.

Disability Statement:

If you have a disabling condition, which may interfere with your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Office of Disability Services at dss@oswego.edu and x3358.