• Class Number 4460
  • Term Code 3330
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Pascal Bercher
    • Dr Pascal Bercher
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 20/02/2023
  • Class End Date 26/05/2023
  • Census Date 31/03/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 27/02/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course covers the theoretical computer science areas of formallanguages and automata, computability and complexity. Topics covered include: regular and context-free languages; finite automata and pushdown automata; Turing machines; Church's thesis; computability - halting problem, solvable and unsolvable problems; space and time complexity; classes P, NP and PSPACE; NP-Completeness.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

At successful completion of the course, students should:
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of formal computation and its relationship to languages
  • Distinguish different computing languages and classify their respective types
  • Recognise and comprehend formal reasoning about languages
  • Show a competent understanding of the basic concepts of complexity theory

Research-Led Teaching

The material covers standard complexity classes and related topics, which are important in current research for making theoretical investigations.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment


Required Resources


Reading recommendations will be made available on our public webpage.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction & Finite Automata & Regular Expressions
2 Regular Expressions & Context-Free Languages
3 Pushdown Automata assignment 1 released
4 Normal Forms & Closure Properties online quiz
5 Turing Machines
6 Decidability & Undecidability assignment 2 released
7 Time Complexity
8 The Satisfiability Problem (SAT) & Cook’s Theorem
9 More NP-Complete Problems
10 Additional Classes of Problems (co-NP) & Space Complexity assignment 3 released
11 Alternating Time Complexity & Space Complexity
12 Complexity Results in the Research Landscape

Tutorial Registration

Students choose their tutorials via MyTimetable.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assignment 1 12 % 21/03/2023 04/04/2023 1,2
Assignment 2 12 % 25/04/2023 09/05/2023 1,2,3
Assignment 3 12 % 23/05/2023 02/06/2023 4
Online Quiz 4 % * * 1,3
Final Exam 60 % * * 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 12 %
Due Date: 21/03/2023
Return of Assessment: 04/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Assignment 1

Individual assessment, with tutorials preparing for the assessment tasks. Individual assessment, value 12%. It may contain questions that have to be submitted via Turnitin.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 12 %
Due Date: 25/04/2023
Return of Assessment: 09/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Assignment 2

Individual assessment, with tutorials preparing for the assessment tasks. Individual assessment, value 12%. It may contain questions that have to be submitted via Turnitin.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 12 %
Due Date: 23/05/2023
Return of Assessment: 02/06/2023
Learning Outcomes: 4

Assignment 3

Individual assessment, with tutorials preparing for the assessment tasks. Individual assessment, value 12%. It may contain questions that have to be submitted via Turnitin.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 4 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,3

Online Quiz

Online Wattle quiz, individual assessment, value 4%. The quiz will take place in week 4 (the exact date and time will be announced on Wattle) and take 60 minutes.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 60 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Final Exam

Final exam, online via Wattle, individual assessment, value 60%.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Submissions after the due date are not allowed and will be awarded a mark of 0.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Students may re-submit assignments as often as they chose until the deadline. Late submissions are not accepted. In case of extenuating circumstances, students should contact the convenor ahead of the deadline.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Pascal Bercher

Research Interests

Automated Planning and Complexity Theory

Dr Pascal Bercher

By Appointment
Dr Pascal Bercher

Research Interests

Dr Pascal Bercher

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions