The course's main topics are finite automata, regular expressions and context-free grammars. It also contains a short introduction to Turing machines.
Finite automata and regular expressions are simple models of computation. They are for instance used to control traffic lights, to search for patterns, and for lexical analysis. Furthermore their theory can illustrate basic concepts in set theory and the theory of discrete structures.
Context-free grammars are used to parse and analyse both artificial languages (for instance programming languages) and natural languages. Turing machines provide a more expressive model of computation. They help computer scientists understand the limits of mechanical computation by providing a precise definition of the concept of "algorithm". More detailed contents: Proofs. Finite automata, regular expressions, and related algorithms. Context-free grammars. Properties of regular and context-free languages. A short introduction to Turing machines.