Math 203 Contemporary Math

Section 005

Lecture: MWF 10:30-11:20, 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/203s99/

Office Hours: (tentatively) Mo 1:30-2:30, 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 (4th 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, Describing 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, we learn best by doing (again and again and ...). 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). Part of the homework set will serve as the foundation on which the next class discussion will be based; it is therefore essential that you try to work through these before the next class period. One problem from each set will be designated to be turned in and graded; these problems will count 15% toward 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/mid-February, end of March). They will cover the material from Chapters 1 thru 3, and 5 thru 8. Each exam will count 15% toward your grade. 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 15% toward your grade. After each exam or quiz is returned, you will have the opportunity to turn in corrections, to earn back up to one-fourth of the points that you lost. These must be turned on by the end of the next class period.

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. These will come in two flavors. Shorter assignments, given approximately every other week, will focus mainly on your assessment of the course and your progress in it. These will count 15% toward your grade. The longer assignments (probably two) will involve much more significant mathematical content; you will essentially carry out an analysis of a mathematical problem, and write a report of your findings. The longer assignments will also count 15% toward your grade. Both types of writings will be graded on content and grammar (to the extent that a mathematician can grade someone else's grammar...). Late assignments cannot earn full credit, and excessively late assignments will not be accepted.

Class attendance is probably your best way to insure that you will keep up with the material of the course, and make sure that you understand all of the concepts involved. In many cases we will spend much of our time in class working through examples of newly introduced concepts. A missed class therefore means missing part of the work of the course. Attendance will be taken each day, and constitute the remaining 10% of the grade. Each student will be allowed three unexcused absences, to allow for the inevitable complications of modern life.

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. Try to do some work for the class every single day. (I do.)

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. 11 First day of classes.
Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Day - no classes.
Jan. 22 Last day to withdraw from a course without a `W'.
Mar. 5 Last day to change to or from P/NP.
Mar. 14-21 Spring break - no classes.
Apr. 9 Last day to withdraw from a course.
May 1 Last day of classes.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 0.9.