Course Description

Course Name

Theory of Computing

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Finite state machines and Turing machines; limits to computation and effective procedures; recursive functions and predicates; notions of complexity, and completeness.

This paper covers the fundamental topics of Computer Science as a discipline. COSC 341 is a theoretical paper, but there are many practical implications of the theory - including, but not limited to, categorising problems as easy, hard or impossible.

Teaching Arrangements
There are two lectures and two 2-hour tutorials every week.

Course Structure
This paper, which assumes some mathematical background, will explore the hierarchy of languages that are accepted by the fundamental machines of computer science, including finite automata and Turing machines. Discussion of the limits to computation will lead to a review of classic problems, such as the "halting problem." The paper concludes with a discussion of cost in space and time and the classification of languages and problems according to their complexity.

- Three written assignments 10% each
- Final exam 70%

Learning Outcomes
Students will gain an understanding of:
- The theoretical foundations of computer science
- Fundamental descriptions of machines and their capabilities
- The hierarchy of languages and the type of machine required to recognise them
- The limits of computation
- The computational classes P and NP
- Common proof methods for classifying a problem in P, NP or NP-complete
- Basic concepts of approximation algorithms for hard problems

Sudkamp, Languages and Machines: an Introduction to the Theory of Computer Science (Third Edition)

*Course content subject to change