Math 20
Discrete Probability
Last updated March 26, 2014

General Information Schedule Homework Exams Project

General Information


Introduction to Probability by Grinstead and Snell
Available here or at Wheelock Books.

Basic Information

Instructor Zachary Hamaker
E-mail zachary.r.hamaker(at)
Office Kemeny 221
Office Hours M 3:00-4:00, Tu 4-5, F 11:30 - 12:30
Lectures MWF 10:00 - 11:05
X-hour Th 12:00 - 12:50
Lecture Hall Kemeny 108

I am also available by appointment. Feel free to drop in.

ORC Course Description

Basic concepts of probability are introduced in terms of finite probability spaces and stochastic processes having a finite number of outcomes on each experiment. The basic theory is first illustrated in terms of simple models such as coin tossing, random walks, and casino games. Also included are Markov chain models and their applications in the social and physical sciences. The computer will be used to suggest and motivate theoretical results and to study applications in some depth.


Problem sets will be assigned by Friday, posted here. They will be due the following Wednesday. Additionally, there will be online homework. This will include additional practice problems and some programming assignments using R.

Basic Information

There will be two grading schemes for this course, depending on whether or not you choose to do a project. If you decide not to do a project, your grade will be assessed according the following rubric:
Homework 25%
Midterm 20%
Quizzes 20%
Final exam 35%

If you do a project, the final grade will be assessed according to the following rubric. More on projects here.
Homework 25%
Midterm 15%
Quizzes 15%
Final exam 30%
Project 15%

The Honor Principle

On Exams: Students may not give or receive assistance of any kind on an exam from any person except for the instructor or someone explicitly designated by the instructor to answer questions about the exam.

On Homework: Collaboration and discussion is encouraged, and you may discuss problems with instructors, tutors, and fellow students, and use notes, books, calculators, and computing devices. However, each student is to complete his or her assignments individually and independently.

On Projects: discussion with others is encouraged and projects may be written in pairs. You (and your partner) must write it yourself with proper citations. I encourage you to consult with a writing editor (the College provides these through its writing programs).

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities enrolled in this course and who may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see your instructor before the end of the second week of the term. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Student Accessibility Services office may be consulted to discuss appropriate implementation of any accommodation requested. As a first step, if students have questions about whether they qualify to receive accommodations, they should contact the Student Accessibility Service office.
Religious Observance

Some students may wish to take part in religious observances that occur during this academic term. If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with the instructor before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.