CS 203

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CS 203 Discrete Structures and Computing Theory is taken by CS majors after CS 151.

This page contains the syllabus for CS 203 and is used to keep track of assignments, etc. as well for the most recent offering (fall 2023). For announcements, click the link in the table of contents.

General Information

Course website - https://cs.indstate.edu/wiki/index.php/CS_203

Your Instructor

Jeff Kinne, jkinne@cs.indstate.edu
Office: Root Hall A-142 and in Microsoft Teams, phone 812-237-2126
Instructor Office Hours: M 12-2:30pm; TR 9:30am-2:30pm; WF 2-2:30pm

Lecture, Exam

Lecture: WF 10-10:50am and 1-1:50am, in Root Hall A-017 and over Zoom (link in Canvas, see below), and recorded
Mid-term exam: TBA
Final exam: Monday May 6 10am-noon, and/or Wednesday May 8 1-3pm

Prerequisites - C or higher in CS 151.

CRN numbers - 12897 for the 001 face to face section, 12896 for the 302 online section

Required text

Class notes - Notes during class will mostly be kept in the documents in this OneDrive folder. Note that you will need to authenticate with your ISU account to view the notebook.


HW and Labs These are posted in Canvas. HWs are normally due 1 week after being assigned. Labs are normally due two days after assigned.

Quizzes Will normally be taken Fridays between 10:30-10:50am in Canvas. See this link for practice versions of the quizzes (they are in alphabetical order, and we will not be using all of them).

Announcements Announcements will normally be posted to the course in Canvas.

Course Description and Content

Course Description

The catalog description for this course is: "Mathematics content that is foundational to and useful for computer science. Topics include axioms and proofs, induction, graph theory, probability, finite automata, regular expressions, Turing machines, and the Church-Turing thesis." The two main goals are (a) being able to reason about computation (mathematical objects and algorithms), (b) familiarity with the topics listed in the description which are important in later courses.

Course Outline

  • We will start the course by following along in the order of Building Blocks for Theoretical Computer Science, see link above.

Learning Outcomes

  • Basic math - ability to use basic algebra, properties of numbers, rules of exponents and logarithms
  • Proofs - understanding of what a proof is, ability to use the following methods of proof as needed - direct proof / by construction, by contradiction, by induction, by decomposition
  • Logic - ability to use the rules of logic (truth tables, DeMorgan's laws, etc.) in arguments
  • Integers - can use the properties of the integers to write algorithms and reason about their correctness
  • Sets, relations, functions - can apply the definitions of these concepts in proofs
  • Graphs, trees - understanding of standard definitions related to graphs and trees, able to argue basic properties
  • Asymptotic resource analysis (big-O) - can apply the definitions of big-O notation to compare different running time formulae, to simplify expressions, and to determine the big-O running time of algorithms
  • Complexity theory - understanding of definitions of basic complexity classes (L, P, NP, PSPACE, EXP), understanding of canonical problems in each class, can reason about these complexity classes
  • Notions of infinity - understanding of difference between countably and uncountably infinite, can use these in proofs
  • Probability - knowledge of basic definitions and properties of discrete probability, can apply to the analysis of randomized algorithms and processes
  • Regular languages - understanding of DFAs, NFAs, regular expressions and ability to produce models for commonly encountered languages
  • General models of computation - understanding of Turing-complete models of computation (Turing machine, circuits, programming languages) and implications
  • Computability - can give arguments whether a given problem is computable or not (e.g., the halting problem)
  • Notation - proper use of math notation (sets, logic, functions, summations, proofs, etc.)

Assessment of Prior Learning

  • For those that request an assessment of prior learning to "test out of" CS 203, the following are items that could be included on the test.
  • Practice quizzes that are available for this course - rules of exponents/logs, math notation, converting bases, integer algorithms (gcd, extended gcd, modular exponentiation), rules of logic, rules of set theory, big O asymptotics, regular languages, complexity classes and running time.
  • Essay questions similar to HW assignments - using truth tables to prove logical identities, demonstrating RSA, properties of functions and relations, proofs by induction, proving a number is irrational, proving the reals are uncountable, graph algorithms (BFS, DFS, shortest path, MST), constructing DFAs / NFAs / REs, proving a language is not regular, proving a problem is in NP, proving a problem is NP-complete, rules of probability and counting

Course Policies, Grading

See Jeff Kinne Course Policies for course policies and how your overall letter grade will be determined.


Start Assignments and Quiz Studying Early - I suggest attempting an assignment the day it is given, or the day after, so that if you have a problem you can ask early. If you continue to have problems in trying to complete the assignment, you will have time to ask again. Many of the assignments require thought and problem solving, which takes "time on the calendar" not just "time on the clock". By that I mean that spending an hour on 3 consecutive days is likely to be more productive than trying to spend 3 hours at once on the assignment.

Expected Amount of Work - My expectation is that an average student will spend about 5-10 hours OUTSIDE of class each week (that is in addition to class time or viewing lecture videos) WORKING PRODUCTIVELY/EFFICIENTLY (not just staring at the computer) to complete their coursework for this class. Some students may spend less time than this, and some students will spend more.

This is the foundation for the rest of CS, so it definitely pays off to do your best here.

Note - please find a way to spend enough time on this class (the investment will pay off in terms of skills, being able to get a job, etc.).

Grade Meanings

The letter grades are intended to have the following rough meaning. The list of achievements needed for each was chosen with this in mind.

  • A+/A: You understand everything and probably could teach the course yourself.
  • B+/A-: You understand nearly everything, and should be all set to use this knowledge in other courses or in a job.
  • C/C+/B-/B: Some things you understand very well and others you don't (more towards the former for a B and more towards the latter for a C).
  • D-/D+/C-: You did put some effort in, and understand many things at a high level, but you haven't mastered the details well enough to be able to use this knowledge in the future.
  • F: Normally, students that get an F simply stopped doing the required work at some point.

CS-Specific Items

This section contains items that are generally the same for all CS courses (and in particular those taught by this instructor).

Lab Help

We have a few lab assistants who are available to help students in beginning computer science courses. Please see https://cs.indstate.edu/wiki/index.php/Unix_Lab_and_Help for details. The lab hours are in a calendar on the CS homepage, at http://cs.indstate.edu/info/index.php#lab_hours. You can join the lab when working on your programs. You can ask the lab assistants to look at your programs, and you can work with any other CS students that are there (you could use the lab as a regular meeting place to work with your classmates).

Course Announcements

Announcements regarding the course will be made both during class and in Canvas. You should make sure your settings are such that you will be notified of these announcements (e.g., by email). You should regularly check your ISU email account or have it forwarded to an account that you check regularly. You can set the account to forward by logging into your indstate.edu email online (if you aren't able to find the option, try a different browser or search online for things like - outlook online forward email setting).

Classroom conduct

You may not use cell phones, iPods/music players, etc. during class. You should be civil and respectful to both the instructor and your classmates, and you should arrive to class a few minutes before the scheduled lecture so you are ready for lecture to begin on time. You may use your computer during class if you are using it to follow along with the examples that are being discussed. You should avoid spending time on email, Facebook, work on other courses, etc. during the lecture for this class (be fully present wherever you are, make the most of each experience).

Academic Integrity

See also Jeff Kinne Course Policies for additional information for more specifics about how I am handling these things for this course.

Please follow these guidelines to avoid problems with academic misconduct in this course:

Homework: You may discuss the homework assignments, but should solve and finish them on your own. To make sure you are not violating this, if you discuss with someone, you should DESTROY any work or evidence of the discussion, go your separate ways, SPEND at least an hour doing something completely unrelated to the assignment, and then you should be able to RECREATE the program/solution on your own, then turn that in. If you cannot recreate the solution on your own, then it is not your work, and you should not turn it in.

Note on sources: if you use some other source, the web or whatever, you better cite it! Not doing so is plagiarism.

Exams: This should be clear no cheating during exams. Each instructor has different rules for what is allowed on exams in terms of notes, etc. If not noted otherwise, you should assume that a quiz or exam is closed notes, no computer, no calculator.

Projects: You should not copy from the Internet or anywhere else. The project should be your own work. It will be fairly obvious to me if you do copy code from the Internet, and the consequences will be at the least a 0 on the project. If cheating is observed, you will at the least receive a 0 for the assignment (and may receive an F for the course), and I will file a Notification of Academic Integrity Violation Report with Student Judicial Programs, as required by the university's policy on Academic Integrity. A student who is caught cheating twice (whether in a single course or different courses) is likely to be brought before the All University Court hearing panel, which can impose sanctions up to and including suspension/expulsion. See http://www.indstate.edu/sjp/docs/code.pdf and http://www.indstate.edu/academicintegrity/ for more information.

Please ask the instructor if you have doubts about what is considered cheating in this course.

Office hours

You can contact me by email or Teams or come to my office during the hours I am normally there. If you want to be sure I am there you can sign up for an appointment. Note that I normally am available for online meetings MTWR 8-10pm as well. If you would like to meet in person you should reserve an appointment using http://cs.indstate.edu/jkinne-meeting to reserve an in person meeting with Jeff Kinne. I am normally in my office during my listed office hours, but by making an appointment you can be more certain.


The course has a canvas site. Click https://indstate.instructure.com/ to go to canvas. You should see this course listed under your courses for the current term. If you don't you may need to click on the Courses icon and then click the "All courses" link. The canvas site is used for giving you your grades, for quizzes/exams, for getting to online lectures (which are done using Zoom), and for posting announcements. Links and such will be kept on this website.

Lectures (using Zoom)

Here at ISU section numbers starting with the number 3 (e.g.3xx: 301, 302, etc.) are generally online sections. There are 2 types of online sections, synchronous online and asynchronous online. Sections that are synchronous should be joined at the regularly scheduled time of the course, whereas sections that are asynchronous generally keep up with the material independently without regularly scheduled meetings. In general async sections are more difficult to stay on top of, and require a great deal of self-discipline (it is much easier to think "I can watch the videos tomorrow" and just get behind). So if you are in one of these sections make sure you get off to a strong start, and ask for help sooner rather than later. If you are in an online section, check your course schedule for course meeting times; if you have a meeting time, then your section is synchronous, otherwise it is asynchronous (or there is an error in the system).

This course has a 301 section (synchronous online) and 001 section (face to face). Students in either section can participate in whatever way you need to.

For ISU's links to information on getting started with Zoom, see https://indstate.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/1851/Portal/KB/ArticleDet?ID=107534. You can also see the information linked at https://www.indstate.edu/services/student-success/cfss. You will get to the lectures for this course by going to Canvas, select this course, click Modules on the menu on the left, and click on the Zoom module. Once there you should see a schedule of lectures and be able to view recorded lectures. Note that you should install the Zoom application for your computer, and you will need to be logged into to Zoom with your ISU credentials to be able to connect. Also note that the lectures are recorded and only available to those in our class. Recorded lectures normally appear later the same day as the lecture.

Note that if you have not used Zoom with your ISU account previously, you need to go to https://indstate-edu.zoom.us and login with your ISU email address and password to get it setup.

Participating online

If you are participating online, please see the information at https://www.indstate.edu/services/student-success/cfss about participating in online courses. You are expected to either join lectures live through Zoom or watch the recordings once they are available. You will complete assignments, quizzes, and exams on the same schedule as the rest of the class.

For quizzes, I will try to find a time each week that works for everyone to take the quizzes at the same time. The mid-term will be scheduled when it gets closer.

For attendance when you are not in the room... If joining by zoom, you need to post a comment in the chat to say if you have any questions about the current assignments, reading, the last lecture, etc. If watching the lecture later, you need to watch it before the next lecture and send me a message by Teams or email saying if you have any questions or want any more examples about a particular topic. So, if not in the room, you should participate at least as much as "no questions from me right now" to get credit for attendance. Also, if joining by zoom, please set a profile picture so that I will see a picture of you in the list of zoom participants (like mine); or leave your video on - in either case, so I can associate a face with the name; if you have a good reason to not do either of these let me know.

ISU Required Syllabus Items

The items in this section are required and are the same for every ISU course.

Special Needs / Disability Services

Standard ISU language required in all syllabi...

Indiana State University recognizes that students with disabilities may have special needs that must be met to give them equal access to college programs and facilities. If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, please contact us as soon as possible in a confidential setting either after class or in my office. All conversations regarding your disability will be kept in strict confidence. Indiana State University's Student Support Services (SSS) office coordinates services for students with disabilities: documentation of a disability needs to be on file in that office before any accommodations can be provided. Student Support Services is located on the lower level of Normal Hall in the Center for Student Success and can be contacted at 812-237-2700, or you can visit the ISU website under A-Z, Disability Student Services and submit a Contact Form. Appointments to discuss accommodations with SSS staff members are encouraged.

Once a faculty member is notified by Student Support Services that a student is qualified to receive academic accommodations, a faculty member is obligated to provide or allow a reasonable classroom accommodation under ADA.

Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct

Standard ISU language required in all syllabi...

Indiana State University is committed to inclusive excellence. To further this goal, the university does not tolerate discrimination in its programs or activities on the basis of: race, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or any other protected class. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 in particular prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational institution that receives federal funding. This includes sexual violence, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. If you witness or experience any form of the above discrimination, you are asked to report the incident immediately to Public Safety: 812-237-5555 or to The Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX: 812-237-8954. With respect to sexual discrimination, instructors, faculty, and some staff are required by law and institutional policy to report what you share with them to The Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX. You do, however, have the option of sharing your information with the following confidential resources on campus:

  • Student Counseling Center: 812-237-3939; Gillum Hall, 2nd Floor
  • Victim Advocate: 812-237-3849 or 812-243-7272 (cell); HMSU 8th Floor

For more information about discrimination and the support resources available to you visit the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX website. Please direct any questions or concerns to: Title IX Coordinator; 812-237-8954; Rankin Hall 426; ISU-equalopportunity-titleix@indstate.edu.