Modern Algebra

Spring 2011

TuTh 1:30-2:50, LART 206; 3 credit hours

Other resources


Instructor: Dr. Art Duval

Please feel free to come by my office any time during scheduled office hours. 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 my office or at home, or by sending e-mail.

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.


MATH 3325, or an equivalent course where you learn the basics of writing proofs. This course will be based on proofs, and you will have to write many proofs.


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to prove theorems in abstract algebra, in particular, concerning groups, rings, and fields. You will know, understand, and be able to apply, prove, and explain major results in this area.


Contemporary Abstract Algebra, Joseph Gallian, Parts 1-4. We may skip some chapters, as announced in class. The textbook is required at all class meetings.

Required Reading: Read each chapter that we cover in class, both before and after class. Skim the chapter before class, even if you don't understand it fully, to have some idea of what we'll be doing in class. Read it more carefully after class to clarify and fill in details you missed in class.

Warning: Sometimes, we will not "cover" all the material from a chapter, but instead focus on a particular aspect of the chapter. In such cases, I will point out in class (and at this website) which other parts of the chapter I expect you to read on your own.


Participation (5%)

A significant portion of class time will be devoted to discussions and problem-solving. Your active engagement with the material is required at all times, whether you are presenting, participating in the audience, or working on a problem with a group. You will not be able to get a good participation grade if you are absent too much.

Computer exercises (5%)

Computer exercises from the textbook will be assigned regularly. These use web applets you can run from any browser, and which are available here. For each exercise, turn in a record of your observations and conjectures. These will be graded largely on effort.

Homework (40%)

Individual homework will be assigned weekly, and will be due Thursdays (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 (including computer exercises) is due at the beginning of class (1:30 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.

Midterm (20%)

The midterm will cover all material we have discussed to that point. The midterm will be on
Thu., 24 Mar.

Final (30%)

The final exam will be comprehensive over all material we discuss in class. The final will be on
Thu., 12 May, 1:00-3:45 p.m.
Makeup exams can be given only in extraordinary and unavoidable circumstances, and with advance notice.


Academic dishonesty:

It is UTEP's policy, and mine, for all suspected cases or acts of alleged scholastic dishonesty to be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and appropriate disposition. See Section 1.3.1 of the Handbook of Operating Procedures.


Due to the course structure, attendance is mandatory. There is no particular penalty for missing a particular class, but you cannot get a good participation grade if you miss too many classes. I will usually "excuse" an absence if you tell me about it in advance, or, in cases of emergencies, as soon as possible afterwards.

My goal is for class meetings and activities to complement, rather than echo, the textbook, and thus for every class to be worth attending.

Drop date:

The deadline for student-initiated drops with a W is Friday, April 1. 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, and students enrolled after Fall 2007 are only allowed six withdrawals in their entire academic career, so please exercise the drop option judiciously.


We all have to show courtesy to each other, and the class as a whole, during class time. Please arrive to class on time (or let me know when you have to be late, and why); do not engage in side conversations when one person (me, or another student) is talking to the whole class; turn off your cell phone (or at least set it to not ring out loud), and do not engage in phone, email, or text conversations during class.


If you have, or suspect you have, a disability and need an accommodation, you should contact the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO) at 747-5148,, or Union East room 106. You are responsible for presenting to me any DSS accommodation letters and instructions.

Exceptional circumstances:

If you anticipate the possibility of missing large portions of class time, due to exceptional circumstances such as military service and/or training, or childbirth, please let me know as soon as possible.