Math 6: Finite Mathematics

Last updated May 21, 2006

Main Page Syllabus Blackboard

Course Information

Course Description Textbook Group Work
Homework Examinations Projects
Grades Honor Principle Disabilities

Course Description

This course will focus on the mathematics which arises in daily situations for those pursuing careers in Business, Life Sciences, Social Sciences and more. We will begin with solving systems of linear equations and build upon this as we learn markov chains and mathematical finance. If time permits we will study game theory and difference equations. Real world applications will be emphasized and students will have the opportunity to personalize the curriculum to a certain extent. As it is an important skill in the working world, group work will be a large component of the course.

The prerequisites for this course are familiarity with high school algebra (see the instructor if you are worried about meeting this criterion... chances are, you are going to be fine) and a willingness to learn and participate in the class. This class does not assume any background in calculus nor will we be covering any calculus unless the individual student decides to pursue this route.


Finite Math and Its Applications (8th edition)
by Goldstein, Schneider, and Siegel
Published by Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0-13-010705-0

The textbook will be available at Wheelock Books. It is likely that there are used copies available both on the internet and here on campus. It may be worth looking around for the best price.

Group Work

Group work will play an important role in this course. In fact, every grade you receive in this class will consist of an individual score and a group score. In the first day of class I will break you into groups of about 3 students each. You will be expected to study with your group, work on projects with your group and work on in-class assignments with your group.

For projects and homework where you are encouraged to work with your group, the group scores will count for more. For exams the group scores will be less. Each assignment, exam and project will outline exactly how the individual and group points will be awarded.

My reason for putting such emphasis on group learning is two-fold. First, employers are looking for graduates who have experience working in teams. Through this group work experience you should gain some skills and experience working on projects and carrying your teammates through the learning process. Second, numerous studies have been done showing that students at all levels perform better when working in group settings. The advanced students gain a higher level of understanding through reviewing the material with the rest of their group. Students who become lost in the material have a support network to turn to for the extra help they need.

If at any time your group is having difficulty working together, make an appointment as a group to meet with me.

The in-class group work will consist of several problems related to the course material. These assignments will not be graded on whether or not your group finishes the assignment, rather on whether or not your group has worked together to make an attempt at the assignment. Solutions to all group assignments will be posted on Blackboard. If you are absent from class, you will not be allowed to make-up points for in-class assignments. There will be more than 5 group assignments but I will only take the top 5 scores for each individual and group grade.


Homework will be assigned daily and collected every Monday at the beginning of class. Assignments can be found on the "assignments" folder in Blackboard. Late assignments will receive no credit although I will still grade your work if you desire. Assignments will awarded an individual grade between 1 and 5 points each. The rubric I will use for grading the assignments is roughly as follows:

5 points: The assignment is written up clearly, thoroughly and correctly. Every problem has a correct and complete solution, showing all necessary details and addressing all subtleties.

4 points: Every problem has been attempted. Most of the solutions are correct, with at most very minor errors or omissions. The explanations are all reasonably clear and complete.

3 points: Every problem has been attempted. Most of the solutions are correct although the student may be missing some vital parts of certain arguments or the arguments may not be clearly explained.

2 points: One or two problems have not been attempted or the work for these problems is cursory. The solutions may be only partially correct and the explanations are poorly presented, or the solution may be a strong attempt at a problem which is entirely wrong.

1 point: There appears to be some reasonable attempt at doing the assignment. Several problems have not been attempted or the work for these problems is cursory. The solutions may be only partially correct and the explanations are poorly presented, or the solution includes nonsensical ideas.

For every assignment you turn in, I expect that:
You use full sentences with correct punctuation;
Your handwriting is legible or the assignment is typed up;
Your name appears at the top right corner of the front page;
The assignment number is written on the top of the front page; and
The pages are stapled together (not dog-eared) and the paper is not frayed or wrinkled.

In other words, I want you to take pride in the work you hand in. Points may be deducted for any violations of these standards.


There will be two quizzes and a final in this course.

Quiz 1:
    Monday, July 17 in class.

Quiz 2:
    Monday, August 7 in class.

Final Exam:
    Saturday, August 27 at 8am, location TBA.


There will be 2 projects in this class. Project descriptions will be posted on Blackboard. You will be expected to do a large portion of the project with your group. The purpose of these projects is to give you real-world context for the class material as well as to give you a chance to display your knowledge in a non-exam setting.


The grades in this course will be calculated as follows:

individual points group points total points
9 Homeworks:
In-class Groupwork:
Project 1:
Project 2:
Quiz 1:
Quiz 2:
Final Exam:
Total Course Points:

I am fond of bonus points. There might be bonus homework problems, bonus questions on exams, perhaps a bonus writing assignment, and class participation may serve as a bonus in the case of borderline final grades.

Honor Principle

Collaboration with your group on homework is highly encouraged; that is, it's a great idea to talk about the homework problems with each other and try to solve them together. However, you must write up homework solutions in your own words. If you consult any person or source other than the course textbook, your group, your class notes, or myself, you must acknowledge the source in your homework write-up. Failure to do so is an act of plagiarism.

For graded work other than homework, I will give specific details about what types of assistance (your group, notes, books, me, etc.) are acceptable. Please talk to me immediately if you have any questions about whether or not a particular form of assistance is acceptable.


Students with disabilities who will be taking this course and may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. I will do my best to accommodate any reasonable requests. I also recommend stopping by the Academic Skills Center in Collis Center to register for support services.