Policies for Math Thought
Instructor: Janice Sklensky
Office Phone: (508)286-3973
Office: Science Center 109
Course Materials: Excursions in Mathematics, byTannenbaum and Arnold.
In this class, we will discuss some of the interesting, beautiful mathematics which surrounds us. We will study areas of math that are beautiful, nifty, exciting, and that are also applicable and straightforward.
You will study the mathematics behind elections, fairly dividing an estate, assigning members of congress, measuring power, and efficiently routing a snow plow. You shall investigate how the golden ratio and symmetry have affected art and architecture for over two millenia. You will also learn how mathematics is affecting modern art, through fractals.
As you read through how the course is structured, you will see that a
lot is expected of you. You will need to spend at least 6
hours a week on reading, homework, and projects!
In this class, you'll be doing real mathematics, and, in the process, discovering (or re-discovering) how fun and beautiful math can be. Good communication between us will be extremely helpful. We need a way for you to share your thoughts about the class and about math in general. Did you encounter math in an unexpected place? Did you hear about something mathematical that intrigued you? You need a way to let me know about theses things. You will therefore keep a journal for this class. In a separate notebook, throughout the week you will jot down any thoughts you want to share with me. (At least one or two sentences after each class meeting, but you're welcome to write more.) Each Friday, you will hand these in, I will write brief responses when appropriate, and return them to you on Monday.
For each week you hand in your journal, you'll receive 2 points, unless your entries are quite sparse, in which case, you'll receive 1.
Learning math is best accomplished through a combination of group and individual efforts. I encourage you to work in groups on your homework, but you do not have to. If you do work in groups, you will find that you benefit most from the experience if you have already made a sincere effort on every problem before the discussion. As for the homework you turn in, all I ask of groups is that each member turn in a complete homework assignment, and that you let me know who you worked with, and certify that you all gave equal effort.
Problems will be assigned every other class meeting, and will be due two classes hence, by 4 pm. Late homework which is received by 4pm the following day will receive at most 50% of the total possible, and no homework will be accepted after that. If you are going to miss class, make arrangements to get the homework to me on time.
Consult your Guidelines for Homework Presentation
for information on how your homework should look.
To keep the course from getting too routine, you will do several projects this semester. There will be two types of projects.
- Commercials *:
About 2 weeks into the semester, we'll take a commercial break or two during every class (except exams). This is your chance to talk about something that's really important to you! You'll pick something (almost anything) that you really love or feel strongly about (with no regard to math), and then you will investigate how math is associated it, and finally give a brief (10-15 minute) commercial sharing the joy, the truth, the excitement of your interest.
Talk to me about signing up for a date. And as a bonus: those who sign up for the first couple weeks will be graded out of more points than those that come later.
First suggested by Sharon Carraballo and first instituted by David Carraballo.
To give you an opportunity to solve problems that are more realistic--problems which do not have one "right" answer, and which take several days of pondering and working to solve to your satisfaction, you will work on several projects, in groups, this term. Each group will then write a paper describing its solution to each project.
I will give you a guide to writing and guidelines for how your paper should be written when the time comes.
It is important for me to make sure throughout the semester that the material you are learning is really making sense to you. To that end, we will have three exams (two during the term, and one during the final period).
Notify me in advance if you will be missing an exam, either by phone or by e-mail. If your reason for missing is acceptable, we will arrange that you take the exam early. If you miss an exam without notifying me in advance, I reserve the right to not give you any make-up. I will not give any individual more than one make-up exam during the semester.
Clearly, missing class is not a wise idea. If you do miss class, it is of course your responsibility to find out any assignments, and to get a copy of the notes and of any handouts.
I expect to use the weights below, although I reserve the right to change my mind if the semester does not go as expected.
Please remember to abide by the Honor Code. I take the Honor Code
seriously, and will bring a case before the Hearing Board if I see or
find anything suspicious. A cheater hurts not only him- or her-self,
but also hurts the rest of the class. Moreover, I can usually spot
Homework, Papers, and Commercials: You may work with anybody you want. You may use any
references you want. However, you must understand how to do every
problem, and you must site references. That not only includes any
other textbooks, but also naming anybody you worked with or got help
Exams: You may not use any notes, books, or colleagues as
reference during the in-class exams.
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Science Center, Room 109
Norton, Massachusetts 02766-0930
TEL (508) 286-3973
FAX (508) 285-8278
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