course info for discrete math
due to the move to online classes, much of this information is now defunct. updates about course policies, exams, grades, etc will be sent via emails through canvas.

instructor: me

goals: while the course topics are centered around discrete structures in math (see official catalogue description), the primary goal for this course is to provide a bridge into abstract mathematics and learn how to read and write proofs. while there are some rules one should follow, mathematical thinking is an art and proving is a social skill (admittedly, nerdier than most social skills), rather than a precise procedure to be followed. as such, these skills are best learned through back-and-forth interactions, and this course is designed to facilitate these interactions.

text: Book of Proof, by Richard Hammack (3rd ed)

we will aim to cover most of chapters 1-12 and, if time permits, part of chapter 14 (how to compare infinities! cool stuff!)

class participation: while there may be some lecturing, the bulk of the in-class time will be used for group work and discussions based on the readings and assignments. (see goals above.) as such, it is crucial you keep up with the readings/assignments and participate in class. participation will also be a direct component of your final grade.

note: groups will be randomly assigned and changed every couple of weeks. however, if there are several students who are not attending regularly or nor doing the readings etc, i may put them in a separate group. don't be one of these people!

reading exercises: to help make sure you stay on track with the out-of-class readings and track your understanding of the material, there will be reading exercises associated with most readings. these will typically be a few simple exercises from sections the reading, to be done out of class when you do the reading and turned at the beginning of the class the reading is due. i also encourage you to write down a list of questions you have when you do the reading, which you can then ask in class. the exercies will be graded primarily on completion/effort (unlike the problem sets and exams), and will count towards the participation grade. in class we will work on deepening your understanding of the reading and you will have an opportunity (if you so desire) to discuss your questions.

readings exercises will be posted on the main course page, typically at least 2 days before the due date. while you may discuss exercises with other students, you must write up solutions in your own words. late exercises are not accepted.

problem sets: there will be regular written problem sets (normal homework) to be graded on correctness, as opposed to the reading exercises. these assignments will usually be posted at least a week in advance on problem set page on the course website, and due at the start of the class period on the due date. expect roughly 1 problem set due every other week. again, while you may discuss the problems with other students, you must write up solutions in your own words. you may turn 1 problem set late (but within 1 week of the scheduled due date, and also not later than the last day of class) without penalty. in exceptional circumstances, i may grant additional extensions--if you need one talk to me.

exams: there will be 2 midterm exams (tba and tba) as well as the final exam (may 5, 8am). more info about the exams will be posted on the course website later in the semester. make-up exams are only given in exceptional circumstances at the instructor's discretion.

grades: at the end of the semester, i'm required to give you some grades. these will represent an approximation of my assessment of your understanding of the material and your effort in the course. the grades are weighted as follows:

25% class participation (based on reading exercises/attendance)
25% problem sets
25% midterm exams (2 exams, weighted equally)
25% final exam

to be more precise, i will assign a letter grade from A+ to F- to each of the 4 categories and your final letter grade will come from averaging these 4 letter grades, with borderline cases being decided on an individual basis (e.g., if your 4 letter grades are AABB or ABBB then the average is bewteen an A and a B, so I will consider other factors such as effort and your overall understanding at the end of the course to assign an A or a B. if the grades are AAAB i will always round up to A, for AABB I usually will, and for ABBB I will consider it). in exceptional cases (e.g., a poor start but a strong finish), i may adjust a final letter grade to be higher than what the above procedure dictates.

the letter grades will follow the "traditional scale" for participation and problem sets (e.g., 90-100% corresponds to A-/A/A+). however the exam grades will follow a more generous grading scale (a "curve") to be determined later. (in the past, typically the A/B cutoff for exams has been in the mid-80's and the B/C cutoff in the low 70's.) note part of the reason for giving you letter grades in each category is so that i can "curve" your numerical scores for exams separately from homework/participation.

to get a sense of how you are doing in the class, i will give you projected letter grades around the time of the in-class exams. if you have questions about your performance or grade during the semester, please feel free to see me.

elevator policy: if one of the tower elevators is inoperative, class may start a few minutes late. if both of the tower elevators are inoperative, class may not start.

final remark: if you have a question about course policies or expectations, just ask.

oh, also there's some stuff my bosses make me say

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