Mathematics in the Modern World
Please feel free to come by my office any time during scheduled
You are welcome to
come at other times, but in that case you might want to make
an appointment, just to make sure that I will be there then. You can
make an appointment simply by talking to me before or after class, by
calling me at
or at home, or by sending
You may also ask any questions directly via phone or e-mail. If I'm
not in when you call, please leave a message on the voice-mail or
answering machine with your name, number, and a good time for me to
call you back. I will try to respond to your phone or e-mail message
as soon as possible.
This is a pilot section of a new course intended for Liberal Arts and
other majors who do not need to take Math 2301, or other
advanced math courses.
An open mind, a healthy curiosity, and a willingness to learn new ideas.
Upon successful completion of the course, you will know and
understand the great ideas and recurring themes of mathematics. You
will be able to express this understanding in verbal form, and by
solving problems. You will be capable of identifying and applying
mathematics in a variety of settings where it arises.
Topics will include, broadly, numbers, infinity, geometry, and
The Heart of Mathematics, 2nd ed., Burger and Starbird, Chs. 1,
2, 3, 4, 7. We will skip some sections, and maybe include one or two
sections from other chapters. The textbook is required at all class meetings.
"Welcome", pages xi-xiv.
Carefully read each section that we cover in class after each class
(taking into account the suggestions of "how to use the book" in the
"Travel Tips - Read the Book" subsection of the "Welcome" section).
I will point out in class and on the web site which parts of each
section, if any, you can skip.
This textbook is extraordinarily readable, and even entertaining,
but also challenging and thought-provoking. The topics in
the text (and the course) are selected to introduce you to deep
mathematical ideas, made accessible by the authors' unique style.
- Participation (5%):
A large portion of class time will be devoted to discussions and
investigations in small groups and with the whole class. Your active
engagement with the material is required at all times. You will not
be able to get a good participation grade if you are absent too much.
- Homework (25%):
Individual homework will be assigned weekly and will be due Wednesdays
(with exceptions as announced in class). You are allowed to work
together on homework (in fact, I encourage you to do so), but the
paper you turn in you must write yourself. Homework is due at the
beginning of class (9:30 sharp); if you cannot make it to
class, arrange to either deliver the homework to me early, or have
someone else bring it to class for you. Your lowest homework score
will be dropped.
- Writing assignments (25%):
There will be approximately biweekly writing assignments, where you
will reflect on what you have learned, explain key ideas, and
investigate more involved problems.
- Tests (10% each):
There will be two in-class tests on the following days, covering
approximately the following chapters:
Makeup tests can be given only in extraordinary and unavoidable
circumstances, and with advance notice.
- Chs. 2-3: Fri. 25 Feb.
- Chs. 4: Fri. 8 Apr.
- Final (25%)
Wed. 4 May, 10:00-12:45 p.m.
The deadline for student-initiated drops with a W is Fri., 18 Mar. After
this date, you can only drop with the Dean's approval, which is granted
only under extenuating circumstances.
I hope everyone will complete the course successfully, but if you are
having doubts about your progress, I will be happy to discuss your
standing in the course to help you decide whether or not to drop.
You are only allowed three enrollments in this
course, so please exercise the drop option judiciously.
Since this is an pilot section, we may need to make small changes to
the structure of the course as it progresses.