Formal Foundations for Information Science

Torsten Hahmann
344 Boardman Hall

Course Description

This course increases student’s understanding of formalism underlying information systems and science. It increases familiarity with formal syntax and language and develops an understanding in handling mathematical structures and methods relevant to information systems and science. The course covers fundamental topics, including logic, set theory, functions and relations, graphs, algebraic structures, and formal languages and discusses the bases of computation. See the link above for a detailed syllabus.

Prerequisites: Enrollment in one of the School of Computing and Information Science graduate programs, or permission of instructor.

Credits: 3

Syllabus (Fall 2014)

Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to a variety of mathematical formalism (formal languages, mathematical structures and logical systems) to represent information.
  • Equip students with the basic toolset to study more advanced formalism from mathematics and theoretical computer science on their own.
  • Enable students to formally write up their ideas in a clear and well-structured manner.
  • Associate mathematical formalisms to problems encountered in the student’s own work or research.

Expected Outcomes

The goal of the course is to improve the mathematical literacy of the student. Every student in the course is expected to learn to

  • independently read, comprehend, and explain mathematical formalisms and simple proofs (formal or informal) presented in reference books or scholarly publications;
  • concisely present thoughts in an organized way using standard mathematical notation and structures as well as algorithms, both in writing and in speaking;
  • relate the basic concepts of set theory, functions, relations, sequences, and graphs to common problems in computer science;
  • relate algorithmic thinking (“while there are bottles left, take a cap and screw in on the next bottle”) and declarative/functional thinking (“put a cap on all bottles”)
  • discuss the theoretical foundations of computer systems and their limitations.

Technical Requirements

  • LaTeX installation such as MikTex (will be covered briefly in class)
  • Adobe Connect account and client
  • Dropbox account

Distance students will also need:

  • Headset or earphones and a microphone (preferably not the built-in microphone of your computer)
  • Webcam
  • Skype account

Class Sessions

  • Details to follow.