Automata Theory
and Formal Grammars

CSC 344/444

Marcus Schaefer

Latest additions

Homeworks and Examples

Assignments will be available through this webpage. Written homeworks are due at the beginning of class for in-class students, and by midnight for online students (Section 910).  Late homeworks will not be accepted (since we do solutions in class), but the lowest homework score will be dropped.




Questions and Answers

There is a page with useful links.


Classes and office hours

The in-class section meets M 5:45pm-9:00pm in Lewis 1009. This course is COL/OL.

Office hours: M 4:00-5:30 and MW 11:00-11:45.

During that time you can find me in the CS&TC building, room 749.
If you want to set up an appointment at another time, or simply ask a question, 
send email to


Required text: Automata, Computability and Complexity, by Elaine Ritch, also see


The following is a very rough schedule, and we may depart from it.

Week 1 Introduction to Automata and Theory of Computation, logic and math review
Week 2/3 Finite State Automata
Week 4 Regular Expressions

Week 5

Regular Languages
Week 6/7 Context-Free Grammars and Pushdown Automata
Week 8 Context-Free Languages
Week 9/10 Advanced Topics: Model Checking, Temporal logics

 Official class syllabus.

Grades and exams

Homework, quizzes: 40%, Midterm: 30%, Final: 30%. I will use the following grading scheme:

Grade Percentage
A 95-100
A- 90-95
B+ 87-90
B 83-87
B- 80-83
C+ 77-80
C 73-77
C- 70-73
D+ 65-70
D 60-65
F <60

Throughout the quarter there will be extra credit problems; extra credit does not directly make up for points lost on homeworks or exams; instead it is added in with a weight to the final grade (i.e. not doing extra credit won't harm you, but doing it can move you up).

The midterm and final exams for the in-class section will take place during class. No make-up exams.

General Policies

Academic Honesty

The course adheres to the university Academic Integrity Policy, the following is an excerpt from the policy:

Cheating: Cheating is any action that violates university norms or instructor's guidelines for the preparation and submission of assignments. This includes but is not limited to unauthorized access to examination materials prior to the examination itself, use or possession of unauthorized materials during the examination or quiz; having someone take an examination in one's place-copying from another student; unauthorized assistance to another student; or acceptance of such assistance.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a major form of academic dishonesty involving the presentation of the work of another as one's own. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to the following:

Complicity: Complicity is any intentional attempt to facilitate any of the violations described above. This includes but is not limited to allowing another student to copy from a paper or test document; providing any kind of material—including one’s research, data, or writing—to another student if one believes it might be misrepresented to a teacher or university official; providing information about or answers to test questions.

A charge of cheating and/or plagiarism is always a serious matter.  If proven, it can result in an automatic F in the course and, in case of a repeated violation, possible expulsion.

For homework this means that while you can talk to other students about your homework, you cannot exchange any written materials or computer files. Any work you submit with your name on it, needs to have been done by yourself. If you do use someone else's work, you need to clearly mark this by placing quotations within quotation marks and citing any references you use. If you have questions on proper citation, you can visit DePaul's Writing Center.

Using materials prepared for other purposes (e.g., another course or work) needs the course instructor's prior permission for use.


An incomplete grade is given only for an exceptional reason such as a death in the family, a serious illness, etc. Any such reason must be documented. Any incomplete request must be made at least two weeks before the final, and approved by the Dean of CDM. Any consequences resulting from a poor grade for the course will not be considered as valid reasons for such a request.

Marcus Schaefer
Last updated: August 31st, 2010.