Hi There!

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

CSC221 – Fall 2018

Foundations of Computer Science


Prof. Daniel R. Schlegel, 395 Shineman Center, daniel.schlegel@oswego.edu
Office/Lab hours: M 4-5pm; W 7-8am; Th 11:30-12:30; or by appointment
Section 800: MWF 12:40-1:35pm, Shineman 174

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.

Course Objectives:

To convert logical statements from informal language to propositional and predicate logic expressions
To apply formal logic to model and analyze the correctness of software constructions
To inductively prove properties of recursively defined functions
To use sets, functions, and relations to model software problems and solutions
To design a finite state machine to accept a specified language
To transform a non-deterministic machine to a deterministic one
To design a regular expression to represent a specified language
To design a context-free grammar to represent a small expression language
To recognize uncomputable problems that have no algorithmic solution


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.6.6.2018 (2018). Available at: https://courses.csail.mit.edu/6.042/spring18/mcs.pdf

Useful Resources:

Useful symbols to know
Be-Fitched (Fitch-style proof strategies) @ Stanford

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 alone, though discussion of general approaches with classmates is encouraged. During the semester there will be roughly 8 assignments. Submission will be via Blackboard or hard copy in class, depending on the assignment.

You will have 7 days to use throughout the semester to submit late work. A maximum of 3 days may be used on any one assignment. We will say that a span of days where the university is closed will count only as one day. Therefore if an assignment is due on a Friday, it may be submitted Saturday or Sunday using only one late day. A submission on Monday will use two, and so on. Outside of this late policy, no late assignments will be accepted.


It is expected that each person 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 Exam30%

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 topics, with the course generally split into two parts.

Part 1

Formal Logic
Mathematical Structures (Sets, Sequences, Functions, Relations…)
Induction and Recursion

Part 2

Formal Languages and Grammars
Finite State Machines

This syllabus and the course schedule are subject to change by the instructor. All changes and related justification will be announced in class, and updates will be reflected in this web version. Lecture slides/notes will be maintained on Blackboard.

1Monday8/27First day of class
Syllabus, Overview
Readings: Suppes, Introduction to Logic Chapter 1 (on Blackboard)
Be sure to answer office hours survey!
Wednesday8/29Introduction to Formal Logic
Syntax of Propositional Logic
Friday8/31Propositional Logic Semantics
Reading: Peter Suber's Translation Tips (propositional logic section)
2Monday9/3No Class - Labor Day
Wednesday9/5Brief presentation by Women in Computing
Truth Tables
Assignment 1 due 9/14 in class
Thursday9/6Add Deadline
Friday9/7Boolean Arithmetic, Circuits
3Monday9/10No Class - Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday9/12Truth Table Arguments
Natural Deduction
Friday9/14Natural Deduction continued
Propositional Logic Reference Sheet added to Blackboard
Assignment 2 due 9/24 in class, submit .java file on Blackboard
4Monday9/17Proof by Contradiction
Wednesday9/19No Class - Yom Kippur
Thursday9/20Drop Deadline
Friday9/21Proof by Contradiction, concluded
Predicate logic
Reading: Peter Suber's Translation Tips (predicate logic section)
5Monday9/24Predicate Logic
Reading: MCS Section 4.1
Wednesday9/26Sets Introduction
Assignment 3 due 10/5 in class
Friday9/28Sets, continued
HashSets in Java
6Monday10/1Lists; Relations
Reading: FoC 2.4-2.8
Wednesday10/3Relational Databases
Friday10/5Functions / Functions in programming languages
Assignment 4 due 10/15 in class, submit .java file on Blackboard
7Monday10/8Function Composition
Wednesday10/10Function Inverses
Friday10/12No Class - Dan sick
8Monday10/15Induction and Recursion Intro
Wednesday10/17Exam 1
Friday10/19No Class - Fall Break
Mid Term Grades Posted
9Monday10/22Go over exam
Friday10/26Towers of Hanoi problem
Reading: FoC Chapter 3 through 3.3.
Assignment 5 due 11/12 in class, submit .java files on Blackboard
Withdraw Deadline
Wednesday10/31Induction, concluded.
A look ahead to the final third of the course
Explanation of the Online Portion of the Course
Friday11/2Formal Languages (Panopto on Blackboard)
Dan at AMIA Annual Symposium
11Monday11/5Regular Expressions, Formally (Panopto on Blackboard)
Dan at AMIA Annual Symposium
Wednesday11/7Regular Expressions in Java (Panopto on Blackboard)
Dan at AMIA Annual Symposium
Friday11/9Work through the Java Regular Expression Tutorial, then complete the small problem on Blackboard.
Dan at AMIA Annual Symposium
12Monday11/12Introduction to Finite Automata
Wednesday11/14Deterministic Finite Automata
Reading: FoC 3.4-3.7
Friday11/16Non-Deterministic Finite Automata
13Monday11/19NFA wrap up, Finite State Transducers
Assignment 6 due 11/30 in class
Wednesday11/21No Class - Thanksgiving Break
Friday11/23No Class - Thanksgiving Break
14Monday11/26FSTs, concluded
Grammars, BNF
Wednesday11/28Grammars, concluded
Friday11/30Introduction to Turing Machines
Assignment 7 due 12/7 in class
Reading: FoC 4.4 on Pushdown Automata, FoC Chapter 5
15Monday12/3Turing Machines, Continued
Readings Rapaport, William J., Philosophy of Computer Science Chapter 8 - A walkthrough of Turing's original paper
Wednesday12/5Walking through Turing's paper
Final Exam Study Guide
Friday12/7Last Day of Class
Walking through Turing's paper
Finals WeekFriday12/14Final Exam 10:30am-12:30pm

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.