COMPSCI 501: Theory of Computation
David Mix Barrington
Course Requirements and Grading
Your grade in COMPSCI 501 will be based on the following:
- Midterm Exam:
There will be one midterm exam counting 20% of your final
grade, during the class period on Monday 3 April,
with extended time to 5:30-7:30 pm.
Exact format will be determined soon.
There are past midterms, with solutions, from my prior offerings
of the course,
here for Spring 2021 and at similar pages on the
websites for my offerings in Spring 2008 through Spring 2017.
- Final Exam: This will during the final exam period
as scheduled by the University, and will be cumulative. You will have two
hours. This exam will count for 30% of your final grade. Again, the
final from Spring 2023, together with
final exams, all with
solutions, are on my web site and should be useful as practice.
- 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. Note: The best five
of the six homeworks will each count for 6% of the grade -- the lowest mark
will not count at all.
- Discussion Writings: Each of the ten discussion meetings
will have a writing assignment, for which each group will submit a
solution. These will be coarsely graded, typically A, B, or F, and
grades will total 20% of your total grade. Because we have a large class
with in-class discussions, we will assign groups that will persist for
- Any sincere attempt
to solve the problem will get at least a B. Often actually solving the
problem is enough for an A. (Often there will be a series of problems
and we'll decide after the fact how far you need to have gotten for the
A.) (Attendence at discussions is thus "required", in that missing
a discussion without a major excuse (medical, family emergency, etc.) incurs
a grade penalty.) (We are still using COVID rules for medical excused
absences -- if you feel that you coming to a particular class session
would be unsafe for you or for others, in your sole judgement, you should
ask to have it excused.) (Also note that it is your responsibility to apply
for an excused absence on the Moodle form, so we don't have to search
elsewhere for your request.)
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 this term are closed book, and
no outside help is allowed. Any cheating on an
exam, such as communicating with another student, soliciting help on
a public website, or unattributed use of an online source
is grounds for an F in the course.
- For discussion assignments, almost anything goes
as a source of information, including the instructor, grader,
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 27 January 2024