MAT 361 Finite Automata

This is a sample syllabus only. Ask your instructor for the official syllabus for your course.

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Course Description

Study of the abstract formalization of digital computers. Applications to computation theory and formal linguistics.

MAT 361 meets for three hours of lecture per week.


Prerequisite: MAT 281 or equivalent with grade C or better. Students must be familiar with sets, functions, relations, proofs -- including proof by induction and by contradiction.


The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of what computers (general-purpose symbol manipulating machines) can (and cannot) do; in short the theory of what is computable. In addition (because it turns out to be related to the taxonomy of symbol manipulating machines) a taxonomy of languages is developed.

After completing MAT 361 the student should be able to

  1. Define the following terms:
  2. State the following:
  3. Given a language described by any of the following provide a definition of that language using any of the others: DFSA, NFSA, regular expression, regular grammar, TG.
  4. Given a language described by either of the following, provide a description using the other: NPDA, CFG.
  5. Be able to use the appropriate pumping lemmas and/or the theorem of Myhill-Nerode to prove a language is not regular or is context sensitive.
  6. Given a CFG find an equivalent grammar in CNF

Expected outcomes

Students should be able to demonstrate through written assignments, tests, and/or oral presentations, that they have achieved the objectives of MAT 361.

Method of Evaluating Outcomes

Evaluations are based on homework, projects, class participation, short tests and scheduled examinations covering students' understanding of topics covered in MAT 361.


Introduction to Computer Theory (2nd ed.), by D. Cohen. Wiley 1997.

Course Outline

Grading Policy

Students' grades are based on homework, projects, class participation, short tests, and scheduled examinations covering students' understanding of the topics covered in MAT 361. The instructor determines the relative weights of these factors.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance policy is set by the instructor.

Policy on Due Dates and Make-Up Work

Due dates and policy regarding make-up work are set by the instructor.

Schedule of Examinations

The instructor sets all test dates except the date of the final exam. The final exam is given at the date and time announced in the Schedule of Classes.

Academic Integrity

The mathematics department does not tolerate cheating. Students who have questions or concerns about academic integrity should ask their professors or the counselors in the Student Development Office, or refer to the University Catalog for more information. (Look in the index under "academic integrity".)

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

Cal State Dominguez Hills adheres to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations for students with temporary and permanent disabilities. If you have a disability that may adversely affect your work in this class, I encourage you to register with Disabled Student Services (DSS) and to talk with me about how I can best help you. All disclosures of disabilities will be kept strictly confidential. Please note: no accommodation may be made until you register with the DSS in WH B250. For information call (310) 243-3660 or to use telecommunications Device for the Deaf, call (310) 243-2028.

Revision history:

Prepared by C.R. Williams 1/28/00. Revised 7/8/01, 7/25/06 (G. Jennings).