CS/ECE 374: About This Course

CS/ECE 374 covers fundamental tools and techniques from theoretical computer science, including design and analysis of algorithms, formal languages and automata, computability, and complexity. Specific topics include regular and context-free languages, finite-state automata, recursive algorithms (including divide and conquer, backtracking, dynamic programming, and greedy algorithms), fundamental graph algorithms (including depth- and breadth-first search, topological sorting, minimum spanning trees, and shortest paths), undecidability, and NP-completeness. The course also has a strong focus on clear technical communication.
We assume that students have mastered the material taught in CS 173 (discrete mathematics, especially induction) and CS 225 (basic algorithms and data structures). Note that “mastery” is not the same as “exposure” or even “a good grade”; hence, Homework Zero! If you got a C+ or worse in CS 173, we strongly recommend retaking 173 before taking 374.
This course is required for all undergraduates majoring in Computer Science majors (in both Engineering and LAS) and Computer Engineering.
CS/ECE 374 is a prerequisite for at least the following classes:
Grades will be based on weekly written homeworks (30% total), two midterms (20% each), and a final exam (30%). See the grading policies for more details.
Many students consider 374 to be the single most challenging course in the entire undergraduate CS/CE curriculum (perhaps after ECE 391). On the other hand, we believe (and employers and alumni seem to agree) that 374 is also the most useful course in the undergraduate CS/CE curriculum (perhaps after CS 225), in no small part because it is so challenging. CS and CE majors are among the brightest students on campus; an easier course would be an insulting waste of your time.

Class Resources

Web site
Almost everything—course policies, detailed schedule, lecture notes, lecture videos, homeworks, homework solutions, lab problems, etc.—can be found here. Hey, look! You found it!
Lecture notes
There is no required textbook. Lecture notes will be posted to the course web site as the semester progresses. Some older lecture notes and/or slides are already available:
Recordings of all lectures will appear on a separate site at most a few hours after each lecture. However, we strongly encourage students to attend the lectures in person to get the most out of them.

Unfortunately, as of Spring 2018, access to new lecture videos requires university login credentials. (This is a college- or campus-wide policy baked into the video hosting platform.) However, videos from several past semesters are still publicly available:

We will use Gradescope for homework submission and grading (both homeworks and exams). Anyone can sign up for access to the CS/ECE 374 Gradescope site with any name and any email address, using the self-enrollment code 9D5Y4B. We will separately ask you for your Gradescope identity, so that we can map your homework grades to you.
We will use Piazza for online discussions. Anyone can sign up for access to the CS/ECE 374 Piazza site with with any name and any email address, using the access code 374A. We strongly encourage posting questions on any course-related topic to Piazza rather than emailing the course staff. You can even post your questions anonymously. (However, we can only give you extra credit for helpful posts if you post them using your real name.)
We've collected a long list of other useful resources on a separate page.