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Department of Computer Science, Unit Catalogue 2008/09

CM20217 Foundations of computation 1

Credits: 6
Level: Intermediate
Semester: 1
Assessment: EX75CW25
Before taking this unit you must take CM10192 and (take CM10196 or take MA10001)
Aims: To introduce formal models of computation. To give students an appreciation of the complexity of different algorithms and problems and the limits of computation. To provide students with a basic understanding of formal computational models such as finite state automata and Turing machines.
Learning Outcomes: On completion of this unit, students will be able to:
1. demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental models of computation.
2. explain the notion of complexity class, and establish what classes a range of well-known problems belong to.
3. demonstrate that some computational problems are undecidable.
Use of IT (A), Application of Number (T/F, A), Problem Solving (T/F, A).
* Models of computation: for example, basic notions of finite state automata, Turing Machines, register machines.
* Decidability. The undecidability of the Halting Problem. Reduction of other problems to the halting problem.
* Complexity. Big-O notation and complexity of algorithms. The notion of complexity class as a measure of the difficulty of a problem. Reduction between problems. Hardness and completeness of a problem with respect to a complexity class. The hierarchy of complexity classes. The question of whether P=NP and its importance for computer science.