Structure & Grades

Things you need to know about this course

  • Time commitment: I expect you to commit 45 minutes between each class plus weekly homeworks, a writing assignment and four quizzes.
  • Active learning: I expect you to help me create a welcoming and supportive classroom atmosphere that invites participation. There will be active learning (worksheets etc.), and you are expected to engage with your peers.
  • Mathematical study skills: I hope to help you develop productive mathematical study skills which will make you more efficient and productive. This includes active reading, closed book writing, etc. New skills may seem to be more difficult at first.
  • Latex: LaTeX is a mathematical typesetting system for typing mathematics to create a beautiful PDF of your work. There will be a LaTeX workshop early in the course, and you will be expected to turn in your written assignment in LaTeX. Weekly homeworks are optional (but LaTeX is strongly preferred).
  • Sage: The course will have some basic programming and mathematical software explorations. We will use Sage for this, which is available to you via the university. I will not assume programming background.

Daily Tasks and Reading Quizzes 10%

You are expected to check the website for tasks between every class. These tasks will be posted by 5:30 pm on the day of the lecture, to be completed by the following lecture. There may or may not be tasks assigned, but there will be a post every lecture day. Students should budget approximately 45 minutes for such tasks. If a student puts in 45 minutes of productive effective effort, they should feel they have met their burden and need not do more. The tasks may be readings, in which case there may be in-class quizzes on the readings at the beginning of the following class. Or they may be brief activities you complete and bring to class with you. Or I may ask you hand something in on canvas or contribute to an online discussion, etc.

  • Grade of A: Doing these tasks diligently for 45 minutes between each class, and demonstrating thoughtful completion of these tasks and resultant learning. Complete mastery of the material is not necessary, but advancement in one’s own learning is. Occasional missed tasks (say, 1-3 per month), are ok if otherwise completed very well.
  • Grade of B: Missing tasks regularly, or completing them without fully thoughtful attention and learning.
  • Grade of C or D: Missing tasks half the time or more, or doing them in name only. For example, passing your eyes over the page instead of reading actively, or looking things up online without understanding them.
  • Grade of F: On the whole not completing the tasks.

Homework 20%

There will be weekly written homework (for a total of 14 weeks). It will be assigned and turned in on Fridays during class. This is your opportunity to check your progress with feedback and prepare for quizzes and exams.

Your grade will be based on the best 10 of 14 homeworks. In other words, 4 homework grades are dropped. Missed or late homeworks will not be graded and will receive a zer0. (I teach another class 3-3:50 pm right after this class; if you can catch me by 4 pm when I return to my office (sliding under the door is fine), I will not consider it late. Otherwise it is late.) If you are missing more than 4 homeworks during the course, this probably indicates that you are unable to complete the course and should meet with me privately.

You can work collaboratively with other students. But you must write up your own solutions yourself. Collaboration can involve discussion, sharing solutions, searching the internet, etc., but during the writing phase, you cannot use any resources besides your textbook. In particular, you may not use notes from your meetings. You must rely on your understanding from the meetings or internet searches. You may alternate between writing and researching phases, so you can seek further help when you get stuck. Failure to follow this “closed book writing” rule is a violation of the honor code.

Written Project 15%

There will be one written project during semester. This will be original written work: original in the sense of original writing, not original mathematics. You will choose a topic, and write “the textbook chapter” on that topic.

Starting mid-semester, the project will be scaffolded, with daily tasks constituting steps in the project. At any time you feel your project is ready and deserving of an A, you may submit it and, if you receive an A, you will be exempt from these scaffolded tasks from that point on (but you will still do the rest of the daily tasks). If you do not receive an A, you will keep working on the project.

There is one important rule for this project, whose violation will constitute an honor code violation. That is, you may not use any resources (even your own notes) during the writing phase(s). You can consult notes in between multiple writing sessions (“research phase”), but not while writing (“writing phase”). You cannot alternate writing and researching phases more than once an hour. I will clarify this further, but it means you write “closed book.”

  • Grade of A: Well-written, highlighting main concepts and ideas, presenting main definitions, theorems and proofs correctly and clearly, with novel worked examples. Mathematically mainly correct.
  • Grade of B: Some confusions and significant mathematical errors, but the narrative can be followed.
  • Grade of C or D: Confusing and difficult to follow.
  • Grade of F: Any violation of the “closed book” rule above, or substantially incomplete or mostly incorrect work.

Quizzes 30%

There will be in-class quizzes on the following dates:

  • Friday, February 1st
  • Friday, February 22nd
  • Friday, March 15th
  • Friday, April 12th

Your grade will be computed from the best three grades (in other words, one is dropped). If you cannot attend a quiz, for any reason (medical, personal, sports, etc.), that will count as the dropped grade. If you cannot attend two quizzes, this probably indicates that you are unable to complete the course and you should have a private meeting with me.

Final Exam 25%

There will be a standard final exam. It is scheduled by the registrar (see the full schedule for all your classes here). You can find the location by logging into when it becomes available.

  • Saturday, May 4th, 4:30-7 pm