This is the advanced (graduate) course on the theory of computability and complexity. It is also a course about formalism and writing and understanding proofs. We will study computability and complexity with an eye both to better understanding the subject matter and to developing our formal reading and writing skills. We will begin with an accelerated review of useful mathematical concepts and proof techniques and then use the Turing Machine as our jumping off point. Some of the material will be recognizable to students who have had CS 3305, though we will go into greater formal detail and much of the material goes beyond the topics covered there.
There is a distinct shift from undergraduate to graduate learning: as an undergraduate, your focus is on breadth; as a graduate student, your focus becomes more on depth (specializing). Whereas as an undergraduate you were probably punctilious and thorough in your reading, part of the skills we hope to see you develop in this class, and in your graduate education generally, is to be able to
You cannot master everything, so you must learn to be selective. I know this is hard and that you may feel it unfair for me to expect you to know know what you need to know. And in this vein, I ask you to have some faith that that ability will come as a natural byproduct as we work through this course together. It has generally been my experience that despite the rigor of the pace and material, students find the challenge and the level of learning enjoyable and rewarding. So sit back and take a deep breath. I want you to be successful!
Final grade percentage will be computed as follows:
|Attendance and Participation||30%|
Class attendance and participation is expected (note that 25% of your grade is based upon it). The success of the course depends upon everyone contributing to the discussion as we learn the material together.
As a part of this process, everyone will regularly take turns demonstrating a homework problem or theorem analysis on the board for the class. These opportunities will allow you to demonstrate your understanding and preparation, to teach the class something, to receive feedback from the class and will allow us as a class to cover more material with better understanding by seeing a variety of perspectives. Please be aware that simply rehashing solutions you find on the internet will not be sufficient. I have looked at the solutions on the internet and they are often incorrect. Also, more than simply writing your solution, you are expected to explain the process itself.
Each day I will assign you a grade on a 5-point scale based on your attendance/participation. To earn at least a 4 you must be present, engaged (i.e., attentive, asking questions, contributing, etc.), and well-prepared (i.e., homework is complete and good faith effort has been made to get answers correct). A 5 is earned if the homework problem or theorem analysis presented by the student is accurate and reflects the student has exerted the effort to master the material.
It may happen on occasion that we do not have time to review every homework assigned in class. That is okay. By far the most you will gain from this class will be the skills you develop in being able to teach yourself and being able to communicate what you have taught yourself to your peers. In order to use class time to greatest effect, I will, at the beginning of each class, ask for input as to which problems should be given highest priority and we will try to make sure to conduct our review in a manner that ensures those problems are covered. You have two arms: come prepared to point to two problems that you would especially like to see discussed as a class.
There will be two proof-based projects during the semester. The first will give you the opportunity to really master a [significant] proof of your choosing from the literature in your field of interest and to critique a similar analysis by one of your class-mates. This will account for about 10% of your grade. The second will be a semester project in which you will design and prove a significant theorem that applies to your own work. This will account for about 25% of your grade.
There will be one midterm and one final. Exams will cover material in the reading assignments and class discussions. Exams are closed book except for one half page, single-sided of notes (i.e., half of 8.5" x 11"). If you put in the time to understand the homework assignments, the tests should not be too difficult. Explicitly, the final will only deal with material not covered on the midterm; however, it will be implicitly comprehensive in that it will assume you understand the material covered throughout the course.
Grades are assigned on the following absolute scale:
Pursuant to our goals as an institution of higher learning, Idaho State University expects all students and faculty to adhere to CDC guidelines. Please observe the current university COVID-19 requirements as indicated on ISU's Roaring Back page.`
The University also strongly encourages all individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Students who are experiencing COVID-19-like illness should NOT come to class and should contact the COVID Health Committee at COVID@health.isu.edu or (208) 282-2705. All confirmed cases of COVID-19 should be provided to the COVID Health Committee on the self-reporting form. All students are required to fully participate in the university’s contact tracing process and follow all instructions related to quarantine and isolation.
Questions on how to do homework and projects should be asked using the class discord server (link available from Moodle) where other students can benefit from and possibly provide help on your questions in addition to help provided by the professor. Please see section below on "Academic integrity" for clarification on what types of help may or may not be appropriate. Score and grade questions should be addressed directly to the instructor via email.
Like it or not, much of your future success depends heavily on your skills as a communicator. Whether in project reports or service learning proposals, any work (including emails and forum posts) should exhibit a professional standard of writing. Like it or not, potential and actual employers will judge you based on your ability to communicate. I will happily give feedback on your writing, but it will be of greatest benefit to you if you are making your best effort. Points may be taken off for poor grammar, spelling, etc.
A free writing center is available on both the Pocatello and IF campuses that offers face-to-face, online chat, and online written feedback.
No late homework or projects are accepted. This means that if you turn an assignment in one minute after it's due you'll receive a zero. Daily quizzes and exams cannot be made up. Exceptions are on a case-by-case basis and are only granted for religious holy days (must have prior approval), documented illness, or documented emergencies.
It is in your best interest to submit whatever you can before deadlines. Probably the best way to make sure you are not unpleasantly surprised is to submit incrementally: submit what you have early, and then continue to improve your work and resubmit as you make improvements, up until the deadline.
Note that the schedule is carefully designed to give you plenty of time between when we discuss in class the concepts needed for a project and when it is due. Please start early and make use of that time to do a good job. If you do not get the entire project completed by the deadline, make sure you submit what you have.
In my experience, one key to success, in class, in our profession, and in life in general, is being organized and meeting deadlines. The no-late-work-policy is in large part to help you be successful and be able to continue progressing and focusing on new material. Please submit your work on time!
Not infrequently do students as me to write them a letter of recommendation. I am generally very happy and willing to do so. I will paint you in the best light possible, but I will be honest and transparent. Make it easy for me to give you a good recommendation. I suggest that whenever asking someone to write a letter of recommendation (including myself) that you ask specifically if they are willing and able to write a good recommendation.
You may work together with other members of the class; in fact, you are strongly encouraged to do so; however, do NOT turn in other people's work. There is a fine line that may require some judgment on your part. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all work is to be done individually. Helping each other through discussion is permitted. You may consult the internet for questions related to programming projects (not homeworks), but you may not copy code from the internet or any other source except for the course textbook. Projects may not be done in groups unless the instructor explicitly says otherwise. Homework may be discussed in groups, but students should be careful to develop individual mastery of the problems and solutions. Exams are closed book except for half page, single-sided of notes (i.e., half of 8.5" x 11").
Academic integrity is expected of all students. Academic dishonesty, including cheating or plagiarism, is unacceptable. The Idaho State University academic dishonesty policy allows an instructor to impose one of several penalties for cheating that range from a warning up to assigning a failing grade for the course or dismissal from the University. ANY use of an electronic device or other form of unauthorized materials during an exam or other assessment will be considered cheating. For more information, please see the ISU Policies and Procedures Policy 5000 (Student Conduct Code).
Some examples of dishonest behavior include, but are not limited to
I prosecute cheating cases to the full extent. I have a general policy that I adhere to in isolated instances. When addressing academic dishonesty my policy is to submit a report to the registrar's office (two such reports across any courses at ISU can result in expulsion from the university). Besides this report, I give students two choices. The student can simply fail all assignments/exams where academic dishonesty was an issue and then continue to work through the course. The second option is to fail and repeat the course. Simply withdrawing after having been caught for academic dishonesty is not a viable option. If you choose to stay in the course, you will receive a 0 on all assignments where academic honesty was an issue (based on your integrity in letting me know or based on me finding evidence of dishonesty). I do not mean to sound gruff. I do not wish to discourage students from learning, growing, and moving on from such experiences. I will support students however they wish to proceed. Incidents with academic dishonesty do not change my eagerness to support your learning and your success.
In the College of Science & Engineering, a student who earns a failing grade via course work (exams, homework, etc.) and has unexcused absences that total more than 30% of class meetings will receive a grade of "X".
To facilitate a productive learning atmosphere, it is expected that students will be punctual, regularly attend class, maintain a positive attitude, use appropriate language, and show respectfulness to other students and the professor. Students are expected to come to class prepared, participate in activities and discussions, and treat others with respect in the classroom, which includes listening interactively to classmates and the professor, and respecting others’ viewpoints. Students should expect frequent and personal invitations to participate in course lectures.
Open laptops and phones are not allowed except for the purpose of taking notes. Please do not text, check social media sites, or eat meals during class.
Students are expected to arrive for class and be in their seats by the scheduled beginning of class. Repeatedly coming to class late disrupts the teaching/learning environment in the classroom and adversely affects the other students in the class.
Our program is committed to all students achieving their potential. If you have a disability or think you have a disability (physical, learning disability, hearing, vision, psychiatric) which may need a reasonable accommodation, please contact Disability Services located in the Rendezvous Complex, Room 125, 282-3599 as early as possible.
Success in this course depends heavily on your personal health and wellbeing. Recognize that stress is an expected part of the college experience, and it often can be compounded by unexpected setbacks or life changes outside the classroom. I encourage you to reframe challenges as an unavoidable pathway to success. Reflect on your role in taking care of yourself throughout the term, before the demands of exams and projects reach their peak. Please feel free to reach out to me about any difficulty you may be having that may impact your performance in this course. If you are experiencing stress in other areas of your campus life, I am happy to help you get in contact with other resources on campus that stand ready to assist you. In addition to your academic advisor, I strongly encourage you to contact the many other support services on campus that are available.
ISU Counseling and Testing Services (CATS) would like to remind all students who are enrolled in the current semester (part-time or full-time) they are eligible for free, confidential counseling services. CATS offers individual, group, and couples counseling, as well as Biofeedback Training. We also offers crisis intervention services Monday through Friday from 8-5.
To establish services:
In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Idaho State University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.
University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator (visit https://www.isu.edu/aaction/title-ix-notice-of-non-discrimination for contact and other information).
In carrying out its educational mission, Idaho State University is committed to adhering to the values articulated in Idaho State Board of Education Policy III.B. Membership in the academic community imposes on administrators, faculty members, other institutional employees, and students an obligation to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and to foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and free expression on and off the campus of an institution.
Many thanks to Dr. Dan Ventura for his support and contributions in developing this course.