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CSE 311 Spring 2020
Foundations of Computing I


CSE 311 examines fundamentals of logic, set theory, induction, and algebraic structures with applications to computing; finite state machines; and limits of computability. Prerequisite: CSE 143; either MATH 126 or MATH 136.


There is no required text for the course. For the first 6-7 weeks of the course, the following textbook can be useful: Rosen, Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications, 6th Edition, McGraw-Hill. It is available used through the bookstore, and on short-term loan from the Engineering Library.


Your overall grade will be determined as follows (subject to change as necessary):

Homework Assignments 88%
Final Assignment 12%

The solutions to all assignments will be submitted via Gradescope. You will receive an email invitation, during the first week of the course, to the course web page in Gradescope. To submit your solution, you will first need to scan it into a PDF. Portions of the scans that are not readable by the TAs (either due to the quality of the scan or the legibility of the handwriting) cannot be graded and will not receive credit.

In addition to the regular homework assignments, there will be one cumulative assignment at the end of the course instead of a final exam. The final assignment will be subject to the same collaboration, late, and regrade policies as the homework assignments. The final assignment will cover the entire course.


You are encouraged to work with other students on homework assignments subject to the following constraints:

When working on solutions with others, we require that:

You may not consult the internet for problems or key-phrases. This includes Google, MathOverflow, Reddit, and any other website. However, you may consult the internet for ideas, definitions, and understanding general concepts.

Abiding by those rules will help you avoid any academic misconduct as described by the Allen School policy.

Late Policy

Assignments should be turned in by the due date and time in order to contribute to your grade. If the circumstances make this difficult or impossible, please contact the course staff (cse311-staff@cs) for help.


We will entertain questions about grades only for one week after they are posted in the course grade book. You can request a regrade in Gradescope.

We will regrade a question only in the case of a grading mistake, where points were deducted from a correct answer.

We will not debate the amount of points deducted for mistakes. Those are entirely at the discretion of the course staff, following the guidelines outlined below.


Legibility is critical

You may lose points for solutions that are not legible. Whenever the grader has to spend a noticeable amount of time trying to determine what your submission actually says, they will deduct points.

You can eliminate that possibility by typesetting your homework solutions.

LaTeX is the standard tool for typesetting mathematical materials. While it takes some time to learn, it will likely pay for itself in the long run. LaTeX math notation is also supported in some places outside of LaTeX documents, such as on the Piazza message board and many flavors of Markdown.

A former CSE 311 instructor, Adam Blank, has provided these documents, which may be useful to you:

Note that LaTeX does not need to be installed on your computer. You can use it in a web browser at the Overleaf web site.

While LaTeX is not required for your assignments in CSE 311, it is encouraged. However, LaTeX is not the best tool for every job. In particular, for drawing circuits, finite state machines, and other diagrams, it is often preferable to draw them by hand, take a picture, and include it in your LaTeX document using the \includegraphics{FILE_NAME} command.

Clarity is important

One of the goals of CSE 311 is to learn how to express ideas clearly using mathematical formalism. You may lose points for solutions that are unclear.

Note that what is clear is up to the reader. If the reader feels that it was difficult to understand, then it was.

Style is important

Your proofs and explanations should be clear, well-organized, and also concise. That said, it is better to err on the side of including too many details.

Much of this is subjective. Solutions are not simply “right” or “wrong”. An answer that is correct but was hard to follow or overly verbose may lose points.

A picture is not a proof

Pictures and short pieces of pseudo-code can be helpful, but they are not complete answers. Make sure you’ve explained everything clearly in English.

Extra Credit

Homework assignments will often have extra credit problems. They will be scored separately from the regular problems, and they will have little to no impact on course grades. The main incentive for doing the extra credit problems is for the challenge of doing the problems.


Please refer to university policies regarding disability accommodations or religious accommodations.