Instructor: Janice Sklensky
Office Phone: (508)286-3973
Office: Science Center 109
Office Hours: see schedule
E-mail: jsklensk@wheatonma.edu
Course Materials: Excursions in Mathematics, byTannenbaum and Arnold. and the associated web site
We will discuss some of the interesting and beautiful mathematics surrounding us: the mathematics behind elections, measuring power, assigning members of congress, and efficiently routing a snow plow. You shall investigate how the golden ratio and symmetry have affected art, architecture and music for over two millenia. You will also learn how mathematics is affecting modern art, through fractals.
In addition to the topics discussed above, you will also have ample opportunity to bring some of your own interests into this class, and to investigate how math relates!
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!
However, there are some people for whom this is not the right class. Students whose schedule makes more than one math class undesirable need to think about their needs: if you might major or minor in psychology, sociology, biology, education, political science, or economics, wait until you know what you are going to do--you may be required (or recommended) to take other math courses. People who want to learn techniques they'll use often (as opposed to learning some of the ways math relates to the world around you) may want to consider taking Statistics or Universal Machines. Also, if you are going to resent doing a variety of different types of work, and who think a math class should only consist of solving problems, you may want to wait a year or two, or failing that, you may want to take Statistics.
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.
I will assign several problems each Wednesday. You are, of course, responsible for all of them, but you only turn 2 or 3 of them, which I will specify. On Mondays, I will answer questions on a few of the problems I am not collecting. Solutions will be due by 4 pm Wednesday.
I do not accept any late homework, but I do drop the lowest score.
Consult your Guidelines for Homework Presentation
for information on how your homework should look.
You can give a ``commercial break''. This consists of a brief (~10 minutes) talk sharing your interest, and the mathematics connected to it. Those who give their talk early will get an extra 5%! These are fun to do, and students like to hear them too!
For slightly fewer points, you can write a paper describing your interest (3-5 pages). Papers that are turned in early also get the extra 5%. These paper should be done on the computer, and I will make them available on the web so that everyone in the class can read them.
This is worth 12% of your grade, so choosing to do a paper rather than a commercial break does hurt your grade a bit.
First suggested by Sharon Carraballo and first instituted by David Carraballo.
I will give you guidelines for how your paper should be written when the time comes.
Notify me in advance, either by phone or by e-mail, if you will be missing an exam. If your reason is acceptable, we will arrange that you take the exam early. If your reason is not acceptable, or if you miss an exam without notifying me in advance, I reserve the right to not give you a make-up exam. I will not give any student more than one make-up exam during the semester.
Be aware that if you choose not to do any of these optional activities, it will be impossible to get an A, and very difficult to get an A-.
Note: Many of these activities can be done in groups, to be graded the same way as any other group work in this class.
I will give you a list of some of the possibilities for individual activities.
Journal | 5% |
Homework | 20% |
Individual Project | 12% |
Group Projects | 8% each |
Midterm Exams | 12% each |
Final Exam | 18% |
Optional Activities | 5% |
If you question the fairness of any grade, bring it to me within a week of receiving it.
Please note that the homework and journal together account for a
quarter of your grade. This means that even if you are quick to learn
the material, you need to demonstrate it to me by means of the
homework, and think about mathematics outside of class for the
journal. The purpose of this is not busy work but because practicing
does indeed help cement the ideas as well as opening up questions you
may not have known you had.
Homework and Group Projects: 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 cite references. That not only includes any
other textbooks, but also naming anybody you worked with or got help
from.
Individual Projects: While you are welcome to consult any source, the end product should represent your own work.
Exams: You may not use your colleagues or friends as reference during the exams.