George Mason University 


CS330 - Formal Methods and Models - Spring 2014

Tues, Thurs 9:00--10:15, AB 2026

Prerequisites | Description | Readings | Syllabus | Grading | Late | TA | Dates

This page last updated on 1/20/2014

Professor Dana Richards 


(Please prefix the subject of your email with CS330.) 

Course office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 11:00-12:00 or by appt.

Engineering Bldg 5320 


CS 211 and Math 125 (C or better in both).


This course is an introduction to two kinds of formal systems - languages and logics - with important applications to computer science. The study of formal languages underlies important aspects of compilers and other language processing systems, as well as the theory of computation. Various systems of logic and automatic reasoning are put to use in artificial intelligence, database theory and software engineering. The entire course will give you practice in precise thinking and proof methods that play a role in the analysis of algorithms. The programming assignments provide practical experience with some theoretical topics. 


Will understand the concepts and relevance of logic, formal languages and automata theory, and computability .

Will be able to able to do mechanical formal proofs, program correctness proofs and solve problems in first-order logic.

Will be able to solve problems in elementary machine models: designing finite-state, pushdown and turing machines.

Will be able to solve problems in formal languages: writing regular expressions, regular grammars, and context-free grammars.


  1. Logic and Languages Models for Computer Science, by Hamburger and Richards.


The pace is approximate. Later chapters will not be covered as completely. 

  Topic                                 Week        Part/Chapters

  Introduction                           1          1

  Propositional Logic and Proofs         1-2        2-3

  Predicate Logic and Proofs             3-4        4-5

  Applications: Prolog and Verification  5-6        6-7

  Exam #1                                6

  Finite Automata, Regular Expressios    7-9        8-10

  Lex: a Regular Expression Language     10         11

  Context-Free Grammars & Applications   11-12      12-13

  Turing Machines & Solvability          13-14      14



Quizzes -- 20%

Programs -- 20%

Exams -- 60%

The two exams, including the final, each cover about a half of the semester; the final is not cumulative. 

Of these exams the highest score will count 35%, and the lowest 25%.  

Exam 1 is tentatively scheduled for March 18.

Exam 2 is scheduled for the time slot of the final (May 8, 7:30AM) but is not as long as the final.

Homework is ungraded.

Quizzes will test homework, typically every other class class.

The lowest quiz grades will be dropped.

There will be small programming assignments in Prolog and in Lex (or AWK). 

All testing is closed book, but limited notes are permitted, as follows for exams (but not for quizzes). One sheet of notes (8.5 by 11 inches, 1 side only). NO COPYING is allowed. That means no photocopying of anything, even the textbook, though you may write out material from it verbatim. It also means no copying of anyone else's notes, even by hand. You may use a computer for editing your own notes. The sheet must be turned in with your exam. Violations of these rules for creating the notes is considered a violation of the Honor Code. 

There is to be NO group work on the programs. Receiving direct contributions to the code that is submitted is considered a violation of the Honor Code. (See for the GMU and Computer Science guidelines.)

It is a departmental requirement that students in CS330 must see their advisor and discuss their degree progress.  Students not fulfilling this requirement will receive an Incomplete grade. (Non-majors and graduate students need not worry about this.)  The visit must be documented by a signed note or email from your advisor.


Programs will be marked down 25% each class they are late; in particular, it is marked down 25% after the due date.

TA:   Ivan Avromovic,, hours TBA

                          NO LAPTOPS, ETC. (If you NEED a laptop for note-taking then speak to me.)