George Mason University 


CS330 - Formal Methods and Models - Summer 2015

MWF 3:45–6:45, Arts Bldg 2003

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

This page last updated on 6/25/2015

Professor Dana Richards 


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

Course office hours: Monday 7:00-7:30 and Wednesday 2:00-3:00 or by appt.

Engineering Bldg 5320 


CS211 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: second edition, by Richards and Hamburger.

  (available as a packet at the bookstore) (soon)


The pace in a normal semester is a chapter per week. Later chapters will not be covered as completely. 

  Topic                                  Chapters

  Introduction                           2-3

  Predicate Logic and Proofs             4-5

  Applications: Prolog and Verification   6-A

  Exam #1                                

  Finite Automata, Regular Expressios    7-9

  Context-Free Grammars & PDAs           10-11

  Turing Machines & Computability        12



Quizzes -- 20%

Program -- 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%.  

The first exam is July 17 and the second  July 31.

Homework is ungraded.

Quizzes will test homework, typically every other class class.

The lowest quiz grades will be dropped.

There will be a small programming assignments in Prolog. 

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 are not included.)  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.)