COSC432-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Relational Methods

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018


This course covers the algebraic structure of binary relations and their use for formally specifying and reasoning about programs, graphs and models described in predicate logic. It presents the mathematics of relational programming, modelling, algorithm development and correctness proofs, and tools supporting these activities.

In this course we explore binary relations and their application in modelling. We will cover a selection of topics from the following, non-exclusive list:
• foundations
  o relations
  o orders
  o lattices

• applications
  o graphs: transitive closure, reachability, matchings, cycles, confluence
  o modelling: two-person games, social choice, preference
  o algorithm development: relational specification, program transformation
  o program semantics: verification, preconditions, fixpoints, computation models

• tools
  o relational programming and modelling languages: Alloy, RelView
  o counterexample generators: Mace4, Nitpick
  o automated theorem provers: Isabelle, Prover9

Learning Outcomes

After completing the course you will

  • know relations, basic relational operations and their properties,
  • understand the matrix and graph representations of relations,
  • be able to perform specific modelling tasks using relations,
  • be able to formally reason about relations,
  • be able to use tools for programming, modelling or reasoning with relations,
  • be aware of program semantics,
  • be aware of the abstraction provided by relations.


45 points of (COSC261 and COSC262 and 200-level MATH courses)

Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 15:00 - 17:00 Jack Erskine 244 23 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 13:00 Jack Erskine 111 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Walter Guttmann


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Assignment One 10 Sep 2018 25%
Assignment Two 15 Oct 2018 25%
Final Exam 50%


Lecture notes will be provided. No textbooks are required, but see the following books for additional information:
• G. Schmidt, T. Strohlein: Relations and graphs, Springer, 1993.
• R. Bird, O. de Moor: Algebra of programming, Prentice Hall, 1997.
• C. Brink, W. Kahl, G. Schmidt: Relational methods in computer science, Springer, 1997.
• R. Berghammer: Ordnungen, Verbande und Relationen mit Anwendungen, Vieweg, 2008.
• G. Schmidt: Relational mathematics, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
• D. Jackson: Software abstractions, MIT Press, 2012.

Additional Course Outline Information

Grade moderation

The Computer Science department's grading policy states that in order to pass a course you must meet two requirements:
1. You must achieve an average grade of at least 50% over all assessment items.
2. You must achieve an average mark of at least 45% on invigilated assessment items.
If you satisfy both these criteria, your grade will be determined by the following University- wide scale for converting marks to grades: an average mark of 50% is sufficient for a C- grade, an average mark of 55% earns a C grade, 60% earns a B- grade and so forth. However if you do not satisfy both the passing criteria you will be given either a D or E grade depending on marks. Marks are sometimes scaled to achieve consistency between courses from year to year.

Students may apply for special consideration if their performance in an assessment is affected by extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Applications for special consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website within five days of the assessment.

Where an extension may be granted for an assessment, this will be decided by direct application to the Department and an application to the Examinations Office may not be required.

Special consideration is not available for items worth less than 10% of the course.

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for special consideration for late discontinuation of the course. Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $982.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering.

All COSC432 Occurrences

  • COSC432-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018