Math 203 Contemporary Math

Section 005

Lecture: MWF 11:30-12:20, in Avery Hall (AvH) 352

Instructor: Mark Brittenham

Office: Oldfather Hall (OldH) 819

Telephone: (47)2-7222


WWW: mbritten/

WWW pages for this class: mbritten/classwk/203s01/

Office Hours: (tentatively) Mo 1:00-2:00, Tu 2:00 - 3:00, We 9:30-10:30, and Th 1:00 - 2:00, and whenever you can find me in my office and I'm not horrendously busy. You are also quite welcome to make an appointment for any other time; this is easiest to arrange just before or after class.

Text: For All Practical Purposes, by Solomon Garfunkel and friends (5th edition).

This course, as the name is meant to imply, is intended to give us a chance to look at some of the problems, methods, and results of contemporary mathematical thinking. Our goal is not so much to learn specific skills, as it is in most other mathematics courses; our interest is more to see how mathematics fits into the modern world, to develop problem solving skills, and to develop communications skills, especially in communicating mathematical ideas. Our basic goal will be to work through the following chapters:

Part 1, Management Science

Ch. 1, Street Networks

Ch. 2, Visiting Vertices

Ch. 3, Planning and Scheduling

Part 2, Statistics: The Science of Data

Ch. 5, Producing Data

Ch. 6, Exploring Data

Ch. 7, Probability: The Mathematics of Chance

Ch. 8, Statistical Inference

Part 4, Social Choice and Decision Making

Ch. 11, Social Choice: The Impossible Dream

Ch. 13, Fair Division

plus whatever else time and interest will allow.

Homework will be assigned nearly every day. It is an essential ingredient to the course - as with almost all of mathematics (and alot else), we learn best by doing. Cooperation with other students on these assignments is acceptable, and even encouraged. However, you should try working through problems first on your own - after all, you get to bring only one brain to exams (and it can't be someone else's). Homework problems will often serve as the foundation on which the next class discussion will be based; it is therefore essential that you try to work through them before the next class period. One problem will be collected and graded each day, and together they will contribute 50 points (out of 500) towards your final grade.

Midterm exams will be given twice during the semester - the specific dates will be announced in class well in advance (likely candidates: early February, mid/end of March). They will cover the material from Chapters 1 thru 3, and 5 thru 8. Each exam will have an in-class, 30-minute, portion, and an an untimed computer portion, which you will take at one of the university's computer labs. You will be allowed 7 weekdays in which to take the computer portion, and you can take it up to once per day. Only your best computer test score will be counted. Each portion, written and computer, will count 50 points towards your grade, for a total of 200 points.

You can take a make-up exam only if there are compelling reasons (a doctor SAYS you were sick, jury duty, etc.) for you to miss an exam. Make-up exams tend to be harder than the originals (because make-up exams are harder to write!).

Each additional chapter will be followed by a 25-30 minute quiz; these quizzes will together count a further 100 points toward your grade.

This course has no final exam.

Writing assignments are an integral part of this class, since this course may be used to meet the Integrated Studies requirement. In addition to the written portions of the exams, therefore, there will be two projects, in which you will essentially carry out an analysis of a mathematical problem, and write a report of your findings. The first you will do individually, and the second in groups (of up to three in size). Each will count 75 points toward your final grade.

Your course grade will be calculated numerically using the above scales, and will be converted to a letter grade based partly on the overall average of the class. However, a score of 90% or better will guarantee some kind of A, 80% or better at least some sort of B, 70% or better at least a flavor of C, and 60% or better at least a D.

In mathematics, new concepts continually rely upon the mastery of old ones; it is therefore essential that you thoroughly understand each new topic before moving on. Our classes are an important opportunity for you to ask questions; to make sure that you are understanding concepts correctly. Speak up! It's your education at stake. Make every effort to resist the temptation to put off work, and to fall behind. Every topic has to be gotten through, not around. And it's alot easier to read 50 pages in a week than it is in a day. The best strategy is probably to try to do some work for the class every single day.

Departmental Grading Appeals Policy: Students who believe their academic evaluation has been perjudiced or capricious have recourse for appeals to (in order) the instructor, the departmental chair, the departmental appeals committee, and the college appeals committee.

Some important academic dates

Jan. 8
First day of classes.
Jan. 15
Martin Luther King Day - no classes.
Jan. 19
Last day to withdraw from a course without a `W'.
Mar. 2
Last day to change to or from P/NP.
Mar. 11-18
Spring break - no classes.
Apr. 6
Last day to withdraw from a course.
Apr. 28
Last day of classes.
May 5

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