CMPSCI 501: Theory of Computation
David Mix Barrington
Course Requirements and Grading
Your grade in CMPSCI 501 will be based on the following:
- Midterm Exams:
There will be two midterm exams, on the evenings of Wednesday 18 February
and Thursday 26 March, in locations to be assigned,
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.) I have taught this course the past
seven springs, and
the exams from those offerings, from Spring
2008, Spring 2009,
Spring 2013, and
similar to what I will ask this time.
- Final Exam: This will be during the May 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 a year ago, 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 25% 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 5% of the grade -- the lowest mark
will not count at all.
- 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, 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 20 January 2015