Syllabus: CSE 3813 Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata, Fall 2011

Dr. J. Edward Swan II <>
Fall 2011
Course Time and Location
Tue and Thu, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm, 104 Butler Hall
Office Hours and Location
Tue and Thu, 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm, 321 Butler Hall
Course Prerequisites
CSE 2383 Data Structures and Analysis of Algorithms and CSE 2813 Discrete Structures, both with a grade of C or better.
Catalog Description
Three hours lecture.  Theoretical foundations of computer science; formal languages and automata, parsing of context-free languages; Turing machines; introduction to computability and complexity. 
Course Objectives
  • To give students a broad overview of the theoretical foundations of Computer Science.
  • To prepare students for study of topics that depend on an understanding of formal languages and automata.
Required Text
Peter Linz, An Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata (5th edition), Sudbury, MA, Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2012.

Grading Scale

90%–100% A
80%–89% B
60%–79% C
50%–59% D
0%–49% F

Graded Activities

Midterm I: 20%
Midterm II: 20%
Final Exam: 30%
Quizzes: 30%

Exams: There will be two in-class midterm exams during the semester. The final exam will be comprehensive, and will be given during the scheduled final exam time. 

Quizzes: There will be approximately 8 in-class quizzes, which will be based upon homework problems that are assigned for the week. 

Missed Exams

Occasionally students miss examinations. Sometimes the student knows about these absences in advance, and sometimes they happen unexpectedly.  If you know in advance that you will be absent and you wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with me before the date of the exam, and I will let you know whether or not the absence will be excused.  If your excused absence will occur during an exam, then I will make arrangements for you to take the exam early.

If you miss an exam unexpectedly and wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with the me at the earliest opportunity possible after the absence, and provide documentation to support your claim that the absence should be considered excused.  If the absence is excused, then I will substitute the average grade of your other exams (midterms and final) for the missed exam.

For unexcused absences from examinations you will unfortunately receive a score of zero points.

Missed Quizzes

If you know in advance that you will be absent during a quiz, and make prior arrangements with me, then I will substitute the average grade of your other quizzes for the missed quiz.  Otherwise, a missed quiz will result in a grade of zero points. 

Grading and Appeals

I will be working with a grader this semester.  If you disagree with a grade, you need to provide me with a written appeal.  Although you can discuss a grade with me, I generally won't make a decision regarding the grade based on a discussion, but only on a written appeal.   

Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration

In this course, students are expected to uphold the Mississippi State University Honor Code:

"As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."

Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor Code.  Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work.  Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor Code.

Students are also expected to maintain the standards of academic honesty that are described in the CSE Department's Undergraduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy, or the CSE Department's Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy

  • Do not cheat on a quiz or exam. 
  • Do not turn in someone else's work, on a programming assignment or any other type of assignment, as if it were your own. 

These are important policies.  Not only will violators fail to learn the course material, but violators will receive an XF in this course, and will otherwise be handled according the CSE Department's Undergraduate or Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policies, as well as the Academic Operating Policy and Procedure of Mississippi State University.

As a professor at Mississippi State University, I am required to report all incidents of academic misconduct.

Additional Policies

Attendance and Audits: Attendance is required in this class.  Although attendance will not affect your grade, I will take roll, and I will list absences on midterm and final grade reports. Students who miss class are still responsible for the material covered and for any assignments distributed.  Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.

Personal Electronic Devices: Students must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore, cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which disturb the lecture are not allowed.  Students with personal laptops are encouraged to bring them to class; however, laptops are not required for this course.

Grade of Incomplete (I): Following MSU policy, incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances, such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar circumstances beyond a student's control.

No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler Hall classrooms.

Email: When I send class-related email, I will use your email address. 

Drop / Add Policy: This class follows Mississippi State University's Official Drop/Add Policy:

A.   Add/Drop without penalty — A student has through the fifth class day into the semester to drop a course and through the sixth class day to add a course without being assessed a fee or academic penalty.

B.   Drop after the fifth class day through the 30th class day into the semester — A student who elects to drop a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be assessed a fee.  The advisor who permits the drop will specify its effective date. 

C.   Drop after the 30th class day into the semester — A student cannot drop courses after this period except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of his/her performance.   A request to drop a course during this period must be approved by the student’s advisor and academic dean.  The dean who permits the drop will specify its effective date.  A student receiving permission to drop will receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.

D.  Faculty are expected to provide a student with significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance within the first 30 class days of the semester.

Right to Change

I reserve the right to change the course policies or schedule in order to facilitate instruction. Any such changes will be discussed in class and updated on the course web site.

Last modified: August 17, 2011