Syllabus for the course CS 5315, Spring 2005

Instructor: Vladik Kreinovich, office COMP 215, email

Class time: TR 6:00-7:20 pm, COMP 308

Office hours: TR 8:30-9:00 am, 12-12:30, 6-6:30, 7:30-8 pm, or by appointment

Prerequisite: CS 3350



  1. Turing's snakelike machine: not very fancy, but it can compute anything (you just wait and wait and wait, ...). Finally: something purely theoretical (and not real machines): recursive functions. Church's bold statement: if anyone can compute anything on any machine, I can compute it on a Turing snake! Universal Turing machine. Can anyone really beat Church? We'll discuss the attempts (Gandi, Kreisel, etc) if time allows.
  2. You are accustomed to the fact that everything is computable, and if your program does not work, that means a bad grade. Finally! Only in this course! Computational problems that cannot be solved! (and so you get a bad grade, if your program solves them - just kidding).
  3. If a program requires a billion years to finish its computations, only a crazy theoretician can call it an algorithm. So, to sound more reasonable, we will talk about computational complexity, realistic (polynomial-time) computations, P and NP, NC, limitations on space and on the number of processors, etc. "P=NP?" as a challenge to mankind. Will science ever stop? Again, we will find here lots of undecidability results. And maybe, as a project, you will be able to prove that some problem that you were planning to solve is undecidable.
  4. What to do if your problem turned out to be undecidable? For sure: not to give up. It can be still decidable in some sense: for almost all cases, by a Monte-Carlo algorithm that gives an answer with probability close to 1, etc. Few results and lots of open problems.
  5. Turing machine was invented in the 30s, P=NP problem appeared when many of you guys were too young to count. What is the modern state of the Theory of Computation? We'll try to cover briefly:

(Turn over, please)

PROJECTS. After a few lectures, you will be given a list of projects to choose from (or you may be smart enough to propose something on your own). These projects will include mainly theory; you'll have to read, analyze and discuss some theoretical paper, and ideally come out with some new ideas (don't be afraid; Nobel prize is desirable for an A, but not necessary).

MAIN SOURCE: Michael Sipser, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, PWS Publishing Co.

TESTS AND GRADES: There will be two tests and one final exam. Each topic means home assignments (mainly on the sheets of paper, but some on the real computer). Some of them may be graded. Maximum number of points:

(smart projects with ideas that can turn into a serious scientific publication get up to 40 points).

A good project can help but it cannot completely cover possible deficiencies of knowledge as shown on the test and on the homeworks. In general, up to 80 points come from tests and home assignments. So:

STANDARDS OF CONDUCT: Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner, as prescribed by the Standards of Conduct. Students may discuss programming exercises in a general way with other students, but the solutions must be done independently. Similarly, groups may discuss project assignments with other groups, but the solutions must be done by the group itself. Graded work should be unmistakably your own. You may not transcribe or copy a solution taken from another person, book, or other source, e.g., a web page). Professors are required to - and will - report academic dishonesty and any other violation of the Standards of Conduct to the Dean of Students.

DISABILITIES: If you feel you may have a disability that requires accommodation, contact the Disabled Student Services Office at 747-5148, go to Room 106 E. Union, or e-mail to