CS301K - Foundations of Logical Thought: Spring 2014

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Course Information

Unique Numbers:53425, 53430, and 53435
Instructor: Jacob Schrum
Instructor's E-mail: schrum2@cs.utexas.edu
Instructor's Office Hours: M 1:00pm-2:00pm in GDC 1.302 Desk 2
Th 1:30pm-2:30pm in GDC 1.302 Desk 2
Class Times:MWF 10:00am-11:00am
Location: GDC 5.302
Discussion Sections: 53425 F 11:00am-12:00pm in GDC 2.502
53430 F 12:00pm-1:00pm in GDC 2.502
53435 F 1:00pm-2:00pm in GDC 2.502
Dates:January 13th - May 2nd
Semester:Spring 2014
Instructor/TA: Tisha Fnu
Instructor/TA's E-mail: tisha88@utexas.edu
Instructor/TA's Office Hours: W 1:00pm-3:00pm in GDC 1.302 Desk 3
Proctor: Shun Zhang
Proctor's E-mail: jensen.zhang@utexas.edu
Proctor's Office Hours: TTh 2:30pm-4:30pm in GDC 1.302 Lab
Proctor: William Combs
Proctor's E-mail: WilliamCombs@utexas.edu
Proctor's Office Hours: MW 3:00pm-5:00pm in GDC 1.302 Lab

Course Objectives

This course is aimed at Computer Science majors who have never taken any type of mathematical theory courses before, though it is also a useful course for developing general reasoning and problem solving skills. For those that continue studying Computer Science, this course serves as excellent preparation for the required course CS311: Discrete Math For Computer Scientists. However, all students taking this course should benefit by improving their reasoning and abstract thinking skills, learning how to construct sound, logical arguments, and by learning to detect flaws in unsound arguments.

More specifically, the course will cover these topics:
  • Problem-solving and thinking abstractly
  • Fundamentals for computer science theory
    • Propositional and predicate logic
    • Sets
    • Mathematical proof techniques
      • direct proof
      • indirect proof
      • proof by contradiction
      • existence proof
      • mathematical induction
    • Relations
    • Functions


There are no formal prerequisites, but I will assume you have some basic knowledge. In particular, you should be familiar with mathematical basics such as factoring, exponentiation, logarithms, etc. However, I also assume that you have NEVER written a formal proof.

You are also expected to have basic computer skills, so that you will be able to regularly access information from this site.


Reading Assignments

The required textbook for the course is:
How to Prove It: A Structured Approach, by Daniel J. Velleman, Cambridge University Press, 2006 (2nd edition).
Readings and homework problems will be assigned from this book.

Reading assignments will be posted on the schedule. Students are expected to complete the assigned readings before the class date next to which they appear on the schedule. Additional required readings from webpages will also be posted on the schedule. The night before every class you will need to complete a short multiple-choice quiz on Piazza that covers the assigned reading.

Class Notes

Notes relating to the topics covered in this course are available on this webpage in the schedule. Students are expected to print these notes out themselves before class so that they can follow along and take additional notes as the notes are elaborated on in class.


Grading is a harsh reality of academic life. Though grading creates work for us and stress for you, it is necessary to assure that the degree you eventually attain has the value it deserves. The grading system in this class is designed to be fair to everyone in the class, and to be as true a measure as possible of what each individual student knows about the class material.

All grades will be accessible via Blackboard. Your final grade will be computed as follows:
Exam 1: 20% 2/28 in class
Exam 2: 20% 4/9 in class
Final: 30% 5/13, 9:00-12:00 noon in PAI 4.42
Homework Assignments: 15%  
Pop Quizzes: 5%  
Piazza Quizzes: 5%  
Piazza Participation: 5%  
The exams and final are cumulative. The exam dates given above are tentative and may be changed. The resulting percentages will be rounded up and used to assign your final grade in the course according to the following scale:
A (4.0) 92-100
A- (3.67) 90-91
B+ (3.33) 86-89
B (3.0) 82-85
B- (2.67) 80-81
C+ (2.33) 76-79
C (2.0) 72-75
C- (1.67) 70-71
D+ (1.33) 66-69
D (1.0) 62-65
D- (0.67) 60-61
F (0.0) 0-59
Homework assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date or at the beginning of discussion sections. Be prepared to turn in homework as you walk into the classroom. Any assignment turned in late will immediately suffer a penalty, which increases for each 24-hour period the assignment is late. For each 24-hour period that passes, your grade on the assignment will be 20% less than what you would normally have received.

Example of late assignment grading:
Say an assignment is due on 2/4 at the beginning of class, which is at 10am. Let's say that if the assignment is turned in on time, it would have earned 85/100 points. However, if the assignment was turned in AFTER the start of class, then it would only earn 80% of 85, namely 68/100. This is the same grade that would be received if the assignment were turned in the next day before 10am. However, if it were turned in after 10am on the following day, it would only earn 60% of 85, namely 51/100. The assignment would be worth 40% (34/100) during the next 24-hour period, then 20% (17/100), and then finally worth nothing. Therefore, you only have four days available in which to get any credit for a late assignment. If you are planning on turning in an assignment late, it is up to you to personally make arrangements with the instructors for how and when to turn it in.

Pop Quizzes:
Surprise quizzes can be given unannounced either during class or in discussion sections, which is yet another reason to attend both on time. These quizzes may be challenging, but will usually be based on something we have recently covered in class.

No late or makeup quizzes will be given. However, if you have a valid justification for missing class that day, we will arrange for missed quiz grades to be replaced by a re-scaled exam score. The details of how this is done are up to our discretion. For a surprise medical emergency, a doctor's note or other form of proof is needed. For any planned absence, you must notify the teaching staff at least a week in advance. If you don't bother telling us about your planned absence until after you find out you missed a quiz, then you will receive a zero on that quiz. The rules for justified quizz absences are the same as for exam absences, which are explained next.

A missed test without a verifiable emergency, medical issue, religious observance, or participation in a varsity sporting event provided to the instructor will count as a zero. Emergency excuses can be provided after the test. All other excuses must be provided one week before the test, in which case a special test session will be scheduled for you. For exams, emergency situations may result in a makeup test, or in having your final exam grade as your missed exam grade, at the discretion of the instructor. A missed final exam with an emergency excuse will require a makeup test.

Piazza Participation
This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates and the teaching staff. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. In fact, you are required to use Piazza for part of your grade. The specific assignments are on the schedule, but basically, the course is divided into three sections, each leading up to an exam. In each of these periods, you are required to make at least two Piazza posts. See the schedule for more details. If you are struggling, then you should be asking questions. If you are understanding things just fine, then you should be helping others. Find our class page here (you will need to sign up).

Piazza Quizzes
The day before each class, there will be a multiple choice quiz on Piazza. You must complete the quiz by 10pm the night before class. At 10pm the quiz will be closed, and the answer will be revealed. The content of the quizzes will sometimes be based on topics covered in class, but will often be based on content we have not yet covered, but that you will have read about in the book. The purpose of the quizzes is to encourage you to do the required readings.

This is the first time I have attempted using quizzes on Piazza, and depending on how smoothly it goes, I may instead switch over to giving quizzes at the beginning of each class, as I did last semester.

In order for this grading system to work fairly for everyone, we need a few additional ground rules:
  • Assigned grades are not the starting point of a negotiation. Unless we have made a specific mistake in grading your work (meaning you have a correct answer that was marked wrong or your score was added incorrectly), your grade is final.
  • If we have made a mistake, then you must submit a description of the problem in writing in email to the teaching staff within one week after we return the graded work to the class. All evidence and supporting arguments must be included in this email, and the assignment, quiz or exam must be promptly returned to the grader.
Note that none of the following grade discussions is appropriate:
  • "I know my answer was wrong, but I deserve more partial credit points." When we grade, we make decisions about how many points to give for various kinds of wrong answers. This is never a clear cut decision. The important thing is that we make some decision and then implement it fairly for everyone. It is completely unfair to come back later and give one person more points just because they ask. We won't do it.
  • "I don't like my final grade. It will ruin my life for the following reason: ... Therefore you should give me a better one." Class grades reflect only one thing: how well you did in the class. Life circumstances just don't play a role here. Don't come to me with this kind of argument.
  • "I don't like my final grade. I am desperate. Isn't there some sort of extra credit thing I could do?" Any answer other than "No" to this question would be completely unfair to other students in the class unless they were all offered this option. That would be equivalent to saying that the semester isn't over and everyone can keep trying. We're not going to do this. Final grades are final.
  • "I don't like my final grade. Can I have an incomplete and try again?" There are University rules for giving incompletes. If you meet those rules (e.g. you had a medical problem during the semester), then, of course, come and tell me and ask for an incomplete. But make sure you do it as soon as you can. Do not wait until the semester is over. If you do not meet the rules, the answer is "No."
  • "I don't like my final grade. It doesn't reflect what I really know. I guess I didn't show what I know on the exams, but won't you give me a chance to convince you that I really know this stuff." Again, any answer other than "No" would be unfair to everyone else.
Some of the comments above are based on the computer science department's code of conduct.


Do not bring laptops or tablets to class. They are a distraction to you and the students around you, and will not be necessary for this class. Print out the class notes and write on them instead of taking notes on your computer.

Academic Honesty

This class follows the University's standard policies on academic honesty. They will be rigorously enforced. Cheating will result in action commensurate with the policies stated in the University's Manual on Academic Honesty. At the very least cheating will lead to an automatic F in the class and a referral of the case to the Dean of Students Office. Additional penalties, including suspension or expulsion from the University, may be imposed by that office. You are expected to do all work individually unless explicit permission for group work is given.

Every piece of work that you submit with your name on it must be yours and yours alone. Students may not acquire from any source (e.g. another student, book, or an internet site) a partial or complete solution to a problem that has been assigned. You may discuss general approaches to problems with other students, but you have crossed the line into cheating if you are looking at another student's solution or solutions from any other source. Discuss the approach, but write up the solution on your own.


Significant portions of this syllabus, as well as large portions of course content (slides, handouts, etc.) were adapted from Mary Eberlein's past version of this class, the website for which is here.