What is computation? Given a definition of a computational model, what problems can we hope to solve in principle with this model? Besides those solvable in principle, what problems can we hope to efficiently solve? This course provides a mathematical introduction to these questions. In many cases we can give completely rigorous answers; in other cases, these questions have become major open problems in both pure and applied mathematics!
By the end of this course, students will be able to classify computational problems given to them, in terms of their computational complexity (Is the problem regular? Not regular? Decidable? Recognizable? Neither? Solvable in P? NP-complete? PSPACE-complete?, etc.) They will also gain a deeper appreciation for some of the fundamental issues in computing that are independent of trends of technology, such as the Church-Turing Thesis and the P versus NP problem. Prerequisites: 6.042 or equivalent mathematical maturity.
Brynmor: Monday 4pm-6pm, Building 32, G5 lounge (next to 5th floor elevators)
Dylan: Tuesday 4pm-6pm, Building 32, G5 lounge (next to 5th floor elevators)
Rather than emailing questions directly to the teaching staff, please post your questions on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email firstname.lastname@example.org (and feel free to cc rrw).
Homeworks/psets will come out on Wednesdays (except when an exam falls on the next week) and will be due the following Wednesday at 11.59 pm. Late assignments will not be accepted. To account for this, we will drop the lowest homework grade in computing your final grade. If you are unable to submit your homework because of extenuating circumstances such as a family/medical emergency, please contact Ryan or the TAs about it (ASAP).
We require that you write your homeworks using a word processor that can generate PDFs. If you can generate a readable typeset PDF of your pset (i.e., in a clean font that is not your handwriting), we are OK with whatever system you use. We strongly recommend that you write your homeworks in LaTeX; we will provide the LaTeX source code for every homework assignment! (Exception: Hand-drawn figures are allowed; you can scan them and merge them in your PDF.) Practically every paper published in computer science and mathematics nowadays is written in LaTeX, so the ability to write in LaTeX is a very useful skill. If you use Windows, MiKTeX is a good choice. If you don't like downloading software but like writing in a web browser, Overleaf is also good. Grading will be done by TAs and/or Graders, via Gradescope.
Most of the work in this course will be mathematical proofs of various cool facts. Your proofs should be as clear as possible. Note, this does not mean your proofs should be long -- in fact, typically, good clear explanations are also short!
Policy on Collaboration:This is very important; please read carefully. We believe that the best learning often happens when you work with others, and we want to encourage that. But it is equally important that you try to learn on your own! So here are our rules for collaboration on homework:
You must think about all homework problems on your own and do your very best to find the solutions yourself, before discussing/collaborating with other students. After failing to find the answers yourself, you may discuss homework problems with other students, and work in groups on the remaining questions.
You must not look for solutions on the web. Instead, ask us questions if/when you get stuck.
Cite properly! If you work in a group, include the names of the other people in the group in your written solution. In general, if you do receive a significant idea from someone or somewhere, you must acknowledge that person/book/website in your solution.
You must write up your own solution to every problem; you may not copy answers from another student, or any other source. Also, you may not show your answers to another student. Failing to follow this rule may constitute plagiarism.
Deviating from the above rules may result in violation of MIT policies. If you have any questions about our policy, please don't hesitate to send a private note to the course staff on Piazza. We have these rules so that you can learn on your own, and also learn from your classmates. They're actually pretty lax compared to other courses, so please respect them!
How to write/submit homework: Via Gradescope. To be announced.
Regrade Policy: If you wish to request a regrade on a problem, you will need to prepare a written justification and come to office hours to talk about your solution in person. We require that you submit your request within one week after the homework/exam is returned.
For all homework questions (that do not give away solutions!), please post
to piazza.com/mit/spring2017/6045/home or come visit us at office hours. You can also send private questions (to TAs and instructors only) using Piazza.
Homework comes out on Wednesdays and will be due on the following Wednesday at 11:59pm. You are required to compose your homeworks in some word processor (LaTeX is preferred); we will provide source code to help you get started. For more details, read the information on Problem Sets.
Midterm: The midterm will be in-class, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 19 in room 3-270. For this exam, we allow one single-sided sheet of notes (on the usual 8.5x11 letter paper); otherwise, the exam is closed-book.
IMPORTANT: If you have a conflict with the midterm time, please email the entire course staff (Ryan, Brynmor, Dylan) with the subject line "Midterm Conflict". We'll schedule a conflict midterm as needed.
Final Exam: JNSN-Ice Rink, Fri 05/24/2019, 9:00 AM–12:00 PM. For this exam, we will allow one double-sided sheet of notes; otherwise, the exam is closed-book.