CMPSCI 401: Theory of Computation
David Mix Barrington
Course Requirements and Grading
Your grade in CMPSCI 401 will be based on the following:
- Midterm Exams:
There will be two midterm exams, on Thursday
evenings (28 February and 10 April) as specified on the
Each will count for 20% of the course grade. I will write exams intended
to be finished in an hour, and give you from 7:00-9:00 to finish them.
(Over the years my students have accused me of overestimating what they
ought to be able to finish in an hour.) As I haven't taught this course
recently, there are no prior exams of mine on the web. But I will post a
practice exam (with solution)
for each midterm, similar in length and content, about a week
before each real exam.
- Final Exam:This will be during the December final exam period
as scheduled by the University, and will be cumulative. You will have two
hours. This exam will count for 25% of your final grade, except that
I will count it for 50%, and reduce the weights of all other components
proportionally, if this is to your advantage. Again, I will post a practice
exam about a week before the actual final.
- Homework: There will be six homework assignments during the term.
Together they will count for 30% of your final grade. The questions will
mostly be taken from the textbook. Late homework will in general not be
accepted -- we'll deal with valid excuses by giving "excused" grades on
particular assignments. (Clarified 24 March: The best five
of the six homeworks will each count for 6% of the grade -- the lowest mark
will not count at all.
(Clarified 24 March) All homework will be individual, and
every student should submit an answer to every assignment in order to get
- In-Class Writings: At random unannounced times during the
semester I will assign in-class problems for which
each group is to
submit a written response. Groups for in-class writing
will be assembled at the
time and last only for that class period.
These will be graded individually by me on a scale of "check-plus (A)", "check"
(B), "check-minus" (C), and "no response or absent" (F). Any sincere attempt
to solve the problem will get at least a check. Often actually solving the
problem is enough for a check-plus. (Often there will be a series of problems
and I'll decide after the fact how far you need to have gotten for the
check-plus.) The in-class writings will count together for 5% of your
final grade. (Attendence at lectures is thus "required", in that missing
a discussion without a major excuse (medical, family emergency, etc.) incurs
a grade penalty if there happens to be an in-class assignment that day.)
Academic Honesty Policy
All work submitted must be your own in presentation. How much
outside help is allowed depends on the course component.
- The exams are
closed-book and no outside help is allowed. Any cheating on an exam
is grounds for an F in the course.
- For in-class assignments, almost anything goes
as a source of information, including the instructor, TA, and your classmates,
but you must still write up the solution in your own words so direct copying
is not allowed.
- With homework the situation is in between and the rule
harder to specify. You may discuss homework with other students, in
fact I encourage this as a learning experience. But again, the writeup must
be your work. Copying is not allowed, and collaboration so close that it
looks like copying is not allowed. (In general, if I get two identical
homeworks I will accept neither of them (i.e., both get F's)
and will give you a stern warning
that could lead to formal action the next time.) A good practice is to divide
your work into an "ideas phase" where you collaborate and a "writeup phase"
where you work alone -- enter the writeup phase with notes, but not written
- If you make use of a printed or on-line source for the homework, other
than specific course materials such as the textbook or web site, please
mention it in your writeup. Of course copying a solution to a problem from
the web is cheating, and this is easier for us to detect than you might think.
Last modified 24 March 2008