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Automata Theory

edX · Stanford University · 3 HN comments

HN Academy has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention edX's "Automata Theory" from Stanford University.
Course Description

This course covers the theory of automata and languages. We begin with a study of finite automata and the languages they can define (the so-called "regular languages." Topics include deterministic and nondeterministic automata, regular expressions, and the equivalence of these language-defining mechanisms.

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This course is offered by Stanford University on the edX platform.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

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Oh, thanks for the update! It looks like the new version is at

Definitely recommended if you like somewhat dry and mathematical stuff with deep relevance to many areas of computer science. :-)

- Algorithms I and II by R. Sedgewick are great ( Super easy to understand and very deep/nuanced at the same time.

- Automata Theory by J. Ullman is also really good. It used to be on Coursera but is now on EdX (

I second the recommendation for "Automata Theory", the explanations are crystal clear and I learned a lot.
I found the first part, on regular expressions really excellent (though the accelerated pace made it difficult to fully grasp all the proofs). He's a still-enthused expert.

However, he didn't seem as passionate on the second part, decision languages. It's also a lot harder, yet is squeezed into even less time.

To help you assess my observation: I scored in the highest segment (IIRC 95%)... After taking the course, I would say I understand the regular expressions material fully, but not decision languages. I'm still confused about showing what complexity class something is in. e.g. the complexity class of determinng two polynomials are equivalent (PIT), like x(1 + y) + y and x + (x + 1)y.

Your experience aligns with how most people feel about learning about Decision Languages, based on my experience in that class in college.
I took his 2 algorithm courses on Coursera's original platform. They were stellar. In particular making practical problems that have a calculable answer that you implement yourself in whatever language you choose and check as part of the course. As opposed to having some online interpreter for some specific language.

That was then hosted on Stanford's own Lagunita platform (based on the edX platform I think.)

Stanford then split those 2 courses into 4 on Coursera's new platform - the same material I believe but packaged differently.

Stanford then closed its Lagunita platform and those original 2 courses are now offered on edX.

A similar story with Alex Aiken's excellent Compiler course and Jeffrey Ullman's Automata course too. I'm not even sure if they are still available on Coursera or not.





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