Mathematical Foundations of Computing
3 - 5 units
What are the theoretical limits of computing power? What problems can be solved with computers? Which ones cannot? And how can we reason about the answers to these questions with mathematical certainty? This course explores the answers to these questions and serves as an introduction to discrete mathematics, computability theory, and complexity theory. At the completion of the course, students will feel comfortable writing mathematical proofs, reasoning about discrete structures, reading and writing statements in first-order logic, and working with mathematical models of computing devices. Throughout the course, students will gain exposure to some of the most exciting mathematical and philosophical ideas of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Specific topics covered include formal mathematical proofwriting, propositional and first-order logic, set theory, binary relations, functions (injections, surjections, and bijections), cardinality, basic graph theory, the pigeonhole principle, mathematical induction, finite automata, regular expressions, the Myhill-Nerode theorem, context-free grammars, Turing machines, decidable and recognizable languages, self-reference and undecidability, verifiers, and the P versus NP question. Students with significant proofwriting experience are encouraged to instead take CS154. Students interested in extra practice and support with the course are encouraged to concurrently enroll in CS103A. Prerequisite: CS106B or equivalent. CS106B may be taken concurrently with CS103.
Pranav Rajpurkar is a PhD student in Computer Science at Stanford, working on Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare. He was previously a Stanford undergrad ('16).
Brad Girardeau got his B.S, M.S. degrees in computer science at Stanford ('16, '17). When not thinking about computer security, he can be found playing violin or running across the Golden Gate Bridge.