Policies for Math Thought
last modified 8/28/98
Instructor: Janice Sklensky
Office Phone: (508)286-3973
Office: Science Center 109
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, studying areas of math that are beautiful, nifty, exciting, and that also are applicable and straightforward.
We will discuss the mathematics behind elections, measuring power, fairly dividing an estate, assigning members of congress, 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!
Good communication between us will be essential. Did you encounter math in an unexpected place? Did you hear about something mathematical that intrigued you? Is the class material making you think about the world in a new way? To let me know, you will keep a journal. In a separate notebook, you will jot down any such thoughts you want to share with me (at least 3 sentences a week). 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. I will drop the lowest 2 scores.
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.
I will assign several problems each Wednesday, but will only collect 2 or 3. On Mondays, I will answer questions on any problem I am not collecting. Problems will be due by 4 pm every Wednesday. I do drop the lowest 2 scores, but I do not accept late homework under any circumstances. If you are going to be gone one Wednesday, arrange to get the homework to me on time.
Consult your Guidelines for Homework Presentation
for information on how your homework should look.
Being able to communicate technical material is critical in any field, whether or notit involves math or science. We will therefore have two types of projects involving communicating technical material to non-specialists.
- Individual Projects :
Pick something (almost anything) that you really love, or feel strongly about, or find interesting (with no regard to whether you can think of how math is associated with it). Then in investigate (often with my help, because it may not be obvious) how math is associated with it. You have 2 choices of how to prevent this material.
For 100 points, you can give a "commercial break"*. This consists of a brief (5-15 minutes) talk sharing your interest, and the mathematics connected to it. Those who give their talk early will get still more credit: an extra 15%!
For 90 points, you can write a paper describing your interest (3-5 pages).
This project is worth 15% of your grade, so the 90 point paper is a big cut.
First suggested by Sharon Carraballo and first instituted by David Carraballo.
- Group Projects:
Working in groups is a critical and valuable skill. To give you an opportunity to solve problems that are more realistic--problems which do not have one "right" answer, and which may 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 write a joint 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). These exams will, of course, be individual efforts, but you will be able to use your books and your notes, as long as everyone respects the honor code and does not violate my trust in you. All exams will be take-home, unless I am given reason to change.
The last exam will be at noon Monday May 11, except for seniors. Seniors should return them to me by noon, Sunday May 10. (That may be Mothers' Day, but there isn't much I can do about that. Sorry.)
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.
|Individual Project ||15%|
|Group Projects ||22%|
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 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
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.
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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