Mathematics 5, Winter 2008

The World According to Mathematics

Course DescriptionCourse Information Syllabus Homework Assignments
Friday Discussions Maple Stuff Take-home ExamsStudent Writing


Information about Math 5

In the following paragraphs, you will find the most important facts about the structure of the course: for example, when and where it meets, the names and office hours of the instructor, the course requirements, dates and times of the exams, and the Academic Honor Principle as it applies to the course.

Textbook: Mathematics and Knowledge: Models of Reality, draft manuscript by Dwight Lahr. The text is available in the College Copy Center, Thayer Hall, at a no-profit cost.

Dwight Lahr
341 Kemeny, 646-2672
Office hours: MW: 2:00-3:30 (and by appt.)

Do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail for purposes of asking questions, making comments, or setting up meetings.

Undergraduate Tutor/Grader:
Ignacio A. Rueda
Tutorials will be held Tuesdays 7:00-9:00 in 105 Kemeny to assist you with the homework or the math being covered.

Class Meetings: MWF 10:00-11:05 in Kemeny 105 (x-hour Th 12:00-12:50)

Homework: Our homework grader is Ignacio A. Rueda. Each week exercises will be assigned that are intended to give you facility with the concepts being developed in class. All material will be covered in class, and you should be able to do the exercises listed for that day after having attended the class. Every Wednesday you will hand in a set of exercises for grading by Ignacio. Each Friday the homework assignments for the next week will be posted on the course website at

Class Discussions: Each student will be expected to participate in the class discussions, especially those that occur on Fridays. Also on Fridays a group of two students will make a 20-minute presentation on a famous mathematitian and his/her work in relation to real world mathematical problems and issues. Specific topics will be assigned during the first week. The students making the presentation should develop three to five questions that will be used to focus the discussion of the class following the presentation. The Friday discussions will also provide a good opportunity to review homework exercises assigned in that week.


The Final Paper: a seven-page double-spaced research paper on a mathematical application in the everyday world. All papers must contain at least 20% mathematics, involve mathematical ideas, and develop material that goes beyond what is covered in class. You should begin thinking about that paper from the first day of Math5. You might want to discuss your ideas with your instructor.

The weekly group presentations: All students are expected to attend all presentations. A grade will be assigned to each student for his/her oral group presentation based on the following categories (see below under "Grading" for overall point totals):

Library Resources: Ann Perbohner, Reference/Bibliographer for Mathematics and Computer Science, has put together a guide to doing library research especially for our class. Check it out.

Grading: Final grades for the course are determined primarily on the basis of performance on the course requirements. However, a student's contribution to class discussions will also be taken into account in the determination of the final grade. The formal weightings are reflected in the following point-scheme:

Total Points: 250

Precise letter grades that take into account total performance will not be assigned until the end of the course. However, after the mid-term, you will be given enough guidance to determine the approximate level of your overall performance relative to a three-point scale such as "excellent, satisfactory, unsatisfactory." Feedback will also be provided on your contribution to class discussions.

Academic Honor Principle:
On exams: No help is to be given or received.
On homework, papers, or oral presentations: No copying. You may seek help from anyone associated with the course, or from a librarian, as much as you need. You may work with other students except on exams, but must always write up whatever you are working on on your own. Copying from someone else's work, including the sharing of electronic or other files (except among group members in oral presentations), is not permitted and is a violation of the honor principle.

Students' Religious Observances: 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 your instructor before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Disabilities: We encourage students with documented disabilities, including "invisible" disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities, to discuss possible accommodations with your instructor. Students might want to consult as well Student Accessibility Services, 301 Collis Center, ext. 6-2014. In addition to providing information and services, the office can assist with determining appropriate accomodations and registering them.

Math 5 Website: We have a website that organizes the materials of the course. The address is There you will find all the handouts of the course, as well as the homework assignments.





Copyright © 2008 by C. Dwight Lahr