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Feedback to lecturers on 2008 Exam Paper

Posted by gert_yes 
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Feedback to lecturers on 2008 Exam Paper
October 24, 2008 08:30AM
Hi All,

So how was the paper for you all?

I don't know if feedback from students on the paper would be considered by the lecturers but it might be worthwhile to give some. I think it could help the lecturers to get a feel for the work they have done and how it was perceived by others, especially their students.

I found it wasn't to bad, not as bad as the preparation itself. One thing that bothered me was the fact that both the recursive definition and the inductive principle were asked. Although neither of them are very complicated the math inside the inductive principle could get a little tedious, especially for non-math majors such as myself. A real time waster in an exam.

Let's face it, this module is not a walk in the park and some of the principles can only be grasped with allot of practice. Unfortunately the exam schedule doesn't really allow for that, but that's besides the point. I think the lecturers MUST give more worked out examples of all the work, especially building FA's, TG's and regular expressions. It's fine to get some of the problems solved as is found in the study guide, but, I want to use the FA's and regular expressions as example. There's not really an algorithm in the textbook for building them. I think building TG's is a little bit better, but that can also be quite tedious to do. If you don't get practice in building these machines/expressions you would never be able to do it. The few samples in the text book and the few solved problems in the study guide is not nearly enough to enable a student like myself to start to recognize the patterns. I still until today cannot by just looking at the given problem build an FA or a regular expression or TG for that matter. I have to sit and try different possible solutions until I get the correct one, if ever. Unfortunately time is not really a student's best friend in the exams, so needless to say Question 5 had me wasting almost 20 minutes of my precious 120 available minutes, and still I couldn't get a correct working solution. I hope the markers will give me some marks for the about 10 different solutions I drew in the exam book before deciding to select one that looked possible, but wasn't working entirely for me. I just skipped question 6 for at that moment because I could earn some marks for some of the remaining questions in the time I had left.

With the previous paragraph I am trying to make the point that I really think the lecturers should put in an effort to try to get the students even more worked out samples, or they should try to explain the building of these machines/expressions in the study guide or an additional tutorial letter in such a way that it could be done with an algorithm or something like that. For me these are the most difficult parts of the module.

Unfortunately I couldn't complete questions 6 and 9 since I ran out of time. Damn that question 5. As mentioned earlier, I just skipped question 6 since it would have wasted more of my precious time.

I thought I could score a few marks for question 10, since it looked easy enough. I unfortunately made a huge mistake there. I mistaken the shortest path from - to + as a method to determine if an expression is finite or infinite. I knew the correct method using the formula and also looking for a loop, but my brain had another idea. I cannot even remember if their was a loop in it or not. I think that was a trick question since there was no way that you could get to + from -. It was clear that it was a infinite machine since their was this circuit that could be traveled infinitely, that I think wat the trick in the question in this case.

Question 9 would have given me 10 more marks since I get the Pumping Lemma and that particular one wasn't to complicated, but time was up. Again, damn that question 5, or was it me that didn't recognize the potential for more marks on question 9 than question 10.

I want to thank the lecturers for their time and effort of setting up the exam paper and as I already said it wasn't that bad. I though think one less question would have been the way to go. Maybe chose between the induction principle and the recursive definition or something like that. I think there is enough time during the assignments to test the understanding of both these concepts and in the exam time give the students a break from one of them.

OK, that's enough from me on this module. Only one more to go.

Hope you all do well in this paper and all the others.

From your fellow student,

Gert.
avatar
Rey
Re: Feedback to lecturers on 2008 Exam Paper
October 24, 2008 01:27PM
Ooopss I may have read Question 10 wrong.. I used Blue path from the bottom (-) start state to the left (+) final state. The FA didn't accept any words. Well that's what I thought. Brain must have burnt out by then...Did they ask whether it accepted a word, or finite or infinite words?

I used a binary exhaustive search for the RE -> FA. Start with what I thought was right and kept changing it till it accepted/declined each possible word of 4 letters or less, with a little intuitive reasoning. Took a while.

The Induction principal...Same thoughts. I don't do math...
Pumping lemma...know the theory, grasping the application not up my alley.

Spent the entire 2 hours.

Good exam, if you did a lot of examples and internet homework everything should have been fine. Hope I passed...

----
"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams
"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils ..." - Louis Hector Berlioz
I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
Anonymous User
Re: Feedback to lecturers on 2008 Exam Paper
October 24, 2008 04:08PM
question 10 - asked if the FA accepted any words at all. Blue paint method must be acceptable.

If memory serves me correctly we should all have received 100% for assignments 2-4, and therefore a favourable year mark. In that respect I am thankful. I also emailed the lecturers for assistance during the year and received assistance as needed.

Mathematical induction was taught in MAT111N and I think covered in COS101 as well. I just never got used to the format this time around and gave it a skip.

Anyway, I recognised some of the questions from previous exam papers.

For the mechanical aspects to chapter 7 I developed some crude software to assist. This really helped with understanding the principles.

I should have passed. Think COS301 is going to be a killer....
avatar Re: Feedback to lecturers on 2008 Exam Paper
November 03, 2008 11:39AM
I also used the blue paint method in the exam to check if the FA accepted any words, which it did not.

I found that there could be multiple solutions to the FA, TG, RE questions. Some of my solutions were different to the model answers in the Study guide and according to the lecturers were also acceptable. The number of exercises to grasp the principles, for me, were enough. A couple more would also be good. I would not like to build an FA from a RE. Would probably take a few days. smile

The recursive definition in the exam was fine, but the math in the inductive principle was mostly difficult to grasp in the module and exam.

On the whole, was an enjoyable module. I did not like COS101, with this thing eating that thing. Looking forward to COS301. All the best.
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