Believe it or not, this material is *essential* to being a
computer scientist. It gives you the basic formal tools to understand
computation and its complexity. These are used in many different
areas of computer science, but particularly in .... compilers
(Professor Ferrante's research area). So learning the material well
in this course (particulary regular expressions and context-free
grammars) will give you a head-start on doing well in CSE 131A,
Compilers. If you have already had CSE131A, then you have a head
start on this class already!

The material in the class is formal, and hence mathematical. Don't
let this put you off; programming is formal too. You just need to
learn what the ``rules'' of these formal systems are, just like you
learn the ``rules'' of Java or C. The course also introduces the
notion of a formal *proof*. Constructing a proof of a statement
is a lot like writing a program.