CSci 3501: Algorithms and Computability -- Syllabus

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The syllabus will be updated throughout the semester. Dates, topics, assigned reading, and problem set due dates will be added or might change. All changes in assigned reading and due dates will be announced in class (and occasionally by e-mail). While I will do my best to update the web site accordingly, it is a student's responsibility to keep track of the problem set due dates and reading assignments. If you are not sure about due dates, please don't hesitate to ask.

Reading assignments are listed for the day when the material is first explained in class. You may read the material ahead of the lecture or after, either way is fine.

The dates for the midterm exams are set and will not change. If you have a conflict with these dates, please let me know right away. No makeup exams will be given unless there are circumstances beyond your control AND the makeup time is arranged in advance.

In addition to exams there will be 5-8 short in-class quizzes throughout the semester. Quizzes will not be announced in advance. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped (i.e. not counted towards the quiz total). A missed quiz will receive a grade of zero and thus will be counted as the lowest grade, unless it was missed due to an illness or other circumstances beyond your control. If you missed a quiz or a lab because of an illness or similar circumstances, it is your responsibility to communicate these reasons to me as soon as possible and arrange for a make-up work.

The midterms, the final, and quizzes are open book, open notes, unless stated otherwise.

Policies on Collaboration and Use of Resources

Problem sets and labs are individual work, unless otherwise stated. While it's perfectly OK (and is encouraged) to discuss problem sets in general terms with others in the class, your solution must be your own work (i.e. written or coded by you without using anybody else's materials). Copying any part of another person's solution (even if you modify the code) is considered academic dishonesty and will be dealt with according to the university's policy.

Late problem sets policy: Problem sets are due in the beginning of the class on the due date. If a problem set is submitted at (or before) the next class meeting after the due date, it is graded out of 3/4 credit. If it is submitted any time after the next meeting (until the last class meeting), then it is graded out of 1/2 credit.
Problem sets submitted more than 5 minutes after beginning of the class may be considered late.

Groups for labs and problem sets

Hand in one assignment from the entire group with names of both students on the first page. If submitting by e-mail, you must CC it to all your partner(s). In a programming assignments make sure to keep track (in comments or in some other electronic form) of each partner's contribution to the work.

Generally all group members get the same grade for the submitted group work. If you feel that your group members are not contributing the way they should or if there are any circumstances that prevent you or you partner from contributing a fair share, please talk to your partner(s) to work out an arrangement (if possible) and in either case let me know right away. If after the assignment is finished you feel that the group members have contributed unevenly, please talk to me and I'll try to come up with a fair grading strategy.

Discussion with students other than those in your group (or anyone not in this class) should be limited to general approaches to the problem. All such discussions as well as use of sources other than the textbook and the handouts given in class must be acknowledged in the beginning of the problem solution. Use of any materials from previous runs of this class is not allowed.

Studying in groups

Studying in groups is strongly encouraged. You may study for tests, go over textbook materials or lecture notes, and discuss problem sets in general terms (i.e. without actually writing the formulas or giving out the answers).

Use of electronic devices

Use of laptops for class-related activities is usually allowed, except for test time and other specific assignments. Laptops and other devices may not be used for activities unrelated to the class work (checking e-mail, text messaging, etc.). The instructor reserves a right to ask a student to leave the class if the student uses electronic devices inappropriate in a class. No communication devices can be used during a test, including quizzes. If you are taking notes on your laptop, you are not allowed to access anything other than your notes during a test.

Reading assignments use the following abbreviations:

Course topics and timeline

Monday Wednesday Thursday - Lab Friday
Week 1: August 23-25
Summer break, no class Introduction; algorithms; review of Big-O notation.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 1, 3.
Experimenting with function growth rates. More on asymptotic function growth notations.
Problem set 1: Big-O notation. Due Fri., Sept 1.
Week 2: August 28 - September 1
Pseudocode notations, complexity of algorithms.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 2.
Correctness of an algorithm, loop invariants.
Algorithm development and analysis: sorting.
Approaches to complexity analysis of algorithms.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 4.
Problem set 1 due.
Problem set 2: algorithm analysis. Due Fri., Sept. 8.
Week 3: September 4 - 8
Labor day, no class. Recurrences.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 4.
Algorithm development and analysis: sorting (cont.)
Recurrences (cont.), the master theorem.
Problem set 2 due.
Problem set 3: recurrences. Due Fri., Sept. 15.
Week 4: September 11 - 15
The master theorem (cont.) Sorting algorithms.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 6, 7 (up to 7.2).
Algorithm development and analysis: bin packing problem. Sorting algorithms (cont.).
Reading: CLRS Ch. 5, 7.3, 7.4.
Problem set 3 due.
Problem set 4: analysis of sorting algorithms. Due Fri., Sept. 22.
Week 5: September 18 - 22
Sorting algorithms (cont.).
Non-comparison sorting algorithms.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 8.
Algorithm development and analysis: matching problem. Non-comparison sorting algorithms (cont.).
Problem set 4 due.
Problem set 5: non-comparison sorting. Due Fri., Sept 29.
Week 6: September 25 - 29
Strings, graphs, sets, proofs.
Reading: Sipser Ch. 0 (especially sections on graphs, strings, sets, and proofs).
Finite automata.
Reading: Sipser Ch. 1.1
Sorting competition, day 1.
Finite automata (cont.)
Problem set 5 due.
Problem set 6: computability background, finite automata. Due Fri., Oct 6. .
Week 7: October 2 - 6
Finite automata (cont.)
Nondeterministic finite automata.
Reading: Sipser Ch. 1.2
Practice with DFA: introduction to JFLAP.
Sorting competition, day 2.
Nondeterministic finite automata (cont).
Problem set 6 due.
Problem set 7: finite automata Due Wedn., Oct. 18.
Week 8: October 9 - 13
Q&A review session for the midterm.
Sorting competition: day 3
Midterm I. Practice with NFA.
Week 9: October 18 - 20
Fall break, no class Regular expressions.
Reading: Sipser Ch. 1.3.
Problem set 7 due.
Problem set 8: NFAs. Due Mon., Oct. 23.
Sorting competition: the competition!
Regular expressions using JFLAP and in Java.
The pumping lemma.
Reading: Sipser 1.4.
Week 10: October 23 - 27
Context-free grammars.
Reading: Sipser 2.1
Problem set 8 due.
Problem set 9: regular expressions, the pumping lemma. Due Fri., Oct. 27.
Context-free grammars (cont.).
Sorting competition: presentations.
Pushdown automata.
Reading: Sipser 2.2.
Problem set 9 due.
Problem set 10: CFGs, pushdown automata. Due Fri., Nov 3.
Week 11: October 30 - November 3
Pushdown automata (cont.).
Pumping lemma for context-free languages.
Reading: Sipser 2.3.
The pumping lemma, context-free grammars, and pushdown automata with JFLAP.
Overview of deterministic context-free languages.
Reading: Sipser 2.4.
Problem set 10 due.
Problem set 11: pumping lemma for context-free languages. Due Fri., Nov. 10.
Week 12: November 6 - 10
Turing machines.
Reading: Sipser 3.1.
More on Turing machines, Church-Turing thesis.
Reading: Sipser 3.2, 3.3.
Turing machines with JFLAP. Decidability.
Reading: Sipser 4.1.
Problem set 11 due.
Problem set 12: Turing machines, decidability. Due Wedn., Nov. 22.
Week 13: November 13 - 17
The halting problem.
Reading: Sipser 4.2.
Review for the midterm. Midterm II. Time complexity: class P problems vs class NP problems.
Reading: Sipser 7.1, 7.2, 7.3.
Week 14: November 20 - 24
NP-completeness.
Reading: Sipser 7.4, parts of 7.5.
Dynamic programming.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 15.
Problem set 12 due.
Problem set 13: time complexity, decidability, NP-completeness. Due Fri., Dec. 1
Thanksgiving holiday - no class Thanksgiving holiday - no class
Week 15: November 27 - December 1
Dynamic programming (cont.).
Greedy algorithms.
Reading: CLRS Ch. 16.
Greedy algorithms (cont.). Graphs, graph algorithms.
Reading: Ch. 22, 23, 24.
Problem set 13 due.
Problem set 14: dynamic programming, greedy algorithms, graph algorithms. Due Fri., Dec. 8
Week 16: December 4 - 8
Graph algorithms (cont.).
A topic from CLRS.
Dynamic programming. Last day of classes
Review and wrap up.
Problem set 14 due. Last day to submit any late work.
Final exam: Thu., Dec 14 2017 11am - 1pm in Sci 2185.

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