6.042 Spring '15 Course Objectives and Outcomes


On completion of 6.042, students will be able to explain and apply basic methods of discrete (noncontinuous) mathematics in Computer Science. They will be able to use these methods in subsequent courses in the design and analysis of algorithms, computability theory, software engineering, and computer systems.

In particular, students will be able to

  1. reason mathematically about basic data types and structures

    (such as numbers, sets, graphs, and trees) used in computer algorithms and systems; distinguish rigorous definitions and conclusions from merely plausible ones; synthesize elementary proofs, especially proofs by induction.

  2. model and analyze computational processes

    using analytic and combinatorial methods.

  3. apply principles of discrete probability

    to calculate probabilities and expectations of simple random processes.

  4. work in small teams

    to accomplish all the objectives above.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. use logical notation to define and reason about fundamental mathematical concepts such as sets, relations, functions, and integers.

  2. evaluate elementary mathematical arguments

    and identify fallacious reasoning (not just fallacious conclusions).

  3. synthesize induction hypotheses and simple induction proofs.
  4. prove elementary properties of modular arithmetic

    and explain their applications in Computer Science, for example, in cryptography and hashing algorithms.

  5. apply graph-theoretic models

    of data structures and state machines to solve problems of connectivity and constraint satisfaction, such as scheduling.

  6. prove correctness and termination of processesand state machines

    using the method of invariants and well-founded orderings.

  7. derive closed-form and asymptotic expressions

    from series and recurrences for growth rates of processes.

  8. calculate numbers of possible outcomes

    of elementary combinatorial processes such as permutations and combinations.

  9. calculate probabilities

    and discrete distributions for simple combinatorial processes; calculate expectations.

  10. problem solve and study in a small team with fellow students.

See also the curricular goal map that relates subject prerequisites and outcomes to those of other subjects in the course 6 curriculum.