Math 20: Probability

Fall 2013

Important Links

Instructor and Meeting Times

Nathan McNew
Office: 243 (35) Kemeny Hall
Office hours: M 10-11, T 8:30-9:30 PM, F 3-4 PM and by appointment
Lecture: 1:45--2:50
Lab: X-hour Th 1:00--1:50
Haldemann 028

Note that you do not need an appointment to attend regularly-scheduled office hours. If you have a conflict you may make an appointment to meet outside those times.


Introduction to Probability, 2nd revised edition, by Charles Grinstead and Laurie Snell.
The book is available for free online here, along with the answers to odd numbered problems. It can be purchased in hardback form online or from Wheelock books.

Additional readings will be made available on the Schedule.


Homework assignments will be due on Mondays. Assignments will typically consist of several problems from the textbook and will be made available here. Homeworks are to be handed in to the box located by Kemeny 008 by 5pm. In general, late homework will not be accepted for a grade, and never without prior arrangement.

Please fill out a FERPA form if you would like to get your homework handed back in a box. (Outside of your classroom in Kemeny. Otherwise, you have to come to your instructor's office and present an ID in order to get it back.)

Homework assignments will be graded much as the problems on your exams will be graded, that is the graders will be looking at the work which supports your answer even more than the answer itself. In particular, a correct answer with no justification will receive no credit, whereas mostly correct work and a tiny error may receive a substantial amount of credit. Solutions should be written in an organized and legible manner. The purpose here is to prepare you for how your exams will be graded.


Probability theory makes predictions about experiments whose outcoes depend upon chance. Consequently, it lends itself beautifully to the use of computers as a mathematical tool to simulate and analyze chance experiments. Doing so requires knowledge of a software package suitable for probability. The labs will be used to give you hands on experience with one particular software package, the freely available, programming language R.

At the beginning we will go through parts of these labs during the x-hours, later you will be asked to implement some of the functions described in the textbook.


There are three scheduled exams: two midterms, held outside of class time, and the final exam.

Midterm 1 Midterm 2 Final Exam
Wednesday, October 16
7:00--9:00 pm
Wednesday, November 6
7:00--9:00 pm
Friday, November 22
3:00--6:00 pm
Kemeny 004 Kemeny 004 Haldemann 028

If you have a conflict with a scheduled exam contact your instructor as soon as possible.
Some resources that might help you prepare for the first midterm: Some resources that might help you prepare for the second midterm: Some resources that might help you prepare for the final:

Disabilities and Religious Observances

Any students with disabilities, including "invisible" disabilities such as chronic diseases and learning disabilities are encouraged to discuss appropriate accommodations with the instructor, either after class or during office hours. Dartmouth College has an active program to help students with disabilities, and I am happy to do whatever I can to help out, as appropriate.

Any student with a documented disability requiring academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with the instructor by the end of the second week of the term. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Academic Skills Center may be consulted to verify the documentation of the disability and advise on an appropriate response to the need. It is important, however, that you talk to me soon, so that I can make whatever arrangements might be needed in a timely fashion.

If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

For your convenience, here is the term calendar as set by the registrar, with deadlines for schedule adjustment and other significant dates.

Honor Principle

On Exams: No assistance may be given or received except that you may ask the instructor for clarification of a problem. You may, however, use calculators.

On Homework: You are permitted and encouraged to collaborate with other students on the homework. However, after discussing the problems, you must write up the final solutions in your own words. You may use calculators and approved software. Additionally, you may consult your class notes and text. It is a violation of the honor code for someone to provide the answers for you.


Grades will be assigned based on homework, labs and exams. Homework will count for 25% of the course grade, labs for 5%, the midterms 20%, and the final 30%.

Last modified 3 November 2013.