Math 20 Course Information

Discrete Probability

Summer term 2000

Meeting times. This course meets Monday Wednesday and Friday at 11:15 AM with X-hour at 12:00-12:50 Tuesday. Keep the X-hour open because it will be used; perhaps frequently. Professor Bogart is teaching the course.

Homework. Homework problems will be due each class at the beginning of class. It should be turned in in the appropriate slot (alphabetically by last name) in the box marked "Math 20 Homework" which is by the window you pass shortly before you enter room 102 Bradley. You are allowed to hand in 3 late homeworks throughout the term, for no penalty. Beyond these 3, late homeworks will receive half credit, but only if the grader has time to grade them. There is no guarantee that three late homeworks handed in during the last week of the term will be graded, even if these are a student's only late homeworks. Late homework will be accepted until one week after the due date. Exceptions will only be made in exceptional circumstances. See the section on working together and the honor principle below for further information. Homework assignments will be posted on the class web page ( They will normally be posted after class (by the evening of that day, so e-mail Professor Bogart if you don't see them by 8PM!) so that the homework can be based on what is actually covered in class. When it is clear to Professor Bogart what his expectations will be, homework assignments may be posted earlier.

Group work and classroom activity. Some of the course is based on student group discussion of problems in class. These group discussions are followed by whole-class discussions which explain the ideas behind the problems and amplify on them. There is a good bit of research that shows students retain more information when they "construct" their own understanding of it in some way; the teaching method is designed to foster such constructions. Since different students learn in different ways, it is Professor Bogart's plan to use a mix of teaching methods. It will be possible for the composition of the groups to change from day to day, and the formation of the groups on any given day will be based in large part on student choice. Therefore the student who wants to try to get the benefits of group work should be able to do so. Obviously it is difficult to participate in a group if you don't come to class, so regular class attendance is strongly encouraged! If class starts with a group activity, it is difficult for students who come to class late to catch up with whatever group they join, and it disrupts the flow of ideas in this group. Thus for reasons of self interest and common courtesy, it is especially important to come to class on time. Students who regularly miss class or regularly come to class late should expect no extra credit for class participation.

Exams. There will be two "mid-term" exams and a final. The first mid-term will be scheduled at or just after the end of the third week of class, and the second will be scheduled at or just after the end of the sixth week of class. The exact timing of the exams will depend on when we have covered a relatively complete body of material. The exams will be designed to take one hour, but they will be scheduled in the evening so that students can take up to two hours. This gives students time to make and correct mistakes, and to think through how to do a problem when they are taking a different (and perhaps more difficult) approach than the instructor intends! The final exam will be scheduled by the registrar. If students want, we can ask the registrar to schedule it at the end of a day in exam period in order to give students an opportunity to stay late without penalizing other students who might have another exam scheduled immediately afterwards.

Grading. Midterm exams 25% each, final exam 50%. The homework average will substitute for one of the "midterm" exam grades or half the final exam grade, whichever is lower. As much as possible, letter grades will be based on demonstrated knowledge. However relative performance may be used as a criterion for increasing grades, and grade borderlines will be chosen to place a relatively small number of students on borderlines. Thus there is no disadvantage to helping other students. Borderline grades may be adjusted up or down on the basis of classroom participation. Bonus points will be given for class participation; especially in the case that other students point out that someone has been especially helpful or otherwise valuable in goup work.

Office Hours. Professor Bogart's office hours will be posted on his door and the main course web page. He usually reads e-mail regularly, and, if available, will read e-mail at least once each evening before homework is due. It is appropriate to send him e-mail asking about meeting at times other than office hours.

Web page and Text. The web page for the course is at That web page will contain homework assignments, posted after the class is complete (or perhaps earlier). The text for the course Introduction to Probability by Grinstead and Snell. This book is available from the bookstore and also may be downloaded from the world wide web; a link to the web site will be provided on the course web page. Answers to odd-numbered problems are also available on the web site.

Working together and the honor principle. Students are encouraged to work together to do homework problems. Groups who work well together in class should consider working together to do homework. What is important is a student's eventual understanding of homework problems, and not how that is achieved. The honor principle applies to homework in the following way. What a student turns is as a homework solution is to be his or her own understanding of how to do the problem. In preparing the draft of the homework to be turned in, a student may not consult the notes or homework solutions of another student. Students may consult any source (including those just forbidden for the final draft), except for another student's final draft, in learning how to do homework problems. Students must state what sources they have consulted, with whom they have collaborated, and from whom they have received help. Students turning in late homeowrk are on their honor not to consult with other students who have received their papers back. The honor principle applies to exams as follows. Students may not give or receive assistance of any kind on an exam from any person except for the professor or someone explicitly designated by the professor to answer questions about the exam.

Students with disabilities. Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with the professor as soon as possible, but in any case by June 29. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Academic Skills Center may be consulted to verify the documentation of the disability.