Math 20: Probability

Summer 2016

Syllabus & assignments


We will be using Introduction to Probability (Second edition), by Charles M. Grinstead and J. Laurie Snell.
The book is available at Wheelock Books, and a linked copy may be downloaded here.
If you plan on taking any probability or statistics based courses in math, science or social science, this textbook will be a very good resource.
The answers to odd-numbered problems can be found here.

General information

All lectures will take place in Kemeny 006.

InstructorKate Moore, 212 Kemeny Hall
LecturesMWF 11:30 - 12:35,
X-hour T 12:15-1:05
Problem sessionsMon 7:00 - 9:00
in Kemeny 004
Office hoursMon 4:00 - 5:30, Tues 4:00-5:00,
Thurs 2:30 - 4:00
and by appointment.

The Highlights
A normal week will follow this pattern:

Monday : Continue working on your problem sets. I've reserved the Kemeny 004 from 7-9pm for problem solving sessions - talk to your classmates if you are hopelessly stuck!
Wednesday : Turn in the problem set. The next collection of material will start today. One or two proof problems will be due on Friday.
Friday : Turn in the proof assignment. Over the weekend, make solid progress on the weekly assignment (office hours Monday and Tuesday).

Homework Assignments:

There will be two assignments due each week. The shorter assignment will be one or two more theoretical problems, intended to help you start transitioning from solving problems to writing math. The presentation of your solutions will be important, eg. I expect complete sentences.

The weekly assignment will consist of several challenging problems and I expect you to start working on it over the weekend so that you can ask your classmates and me for help if you get stuck. Probability includes a lot of puzzles and one of the goals for this class is to build stronger problem solving skills. This means that the problems won't always follow a recipe or procedure! Work towards writing your solutions clearly and with full sentences - I will expect more clarity and organization than calculus assignments.

Please work together! Write your collaborators' names at the top of your paper or near the problems that you worked with them on. Do not share complete solutions with your classmates or let them copy your work. If you work solutions out on a chalkboard with others, erase the board before writing your own solutions. This is important for making sure that you really can do the problems independently without lingering confusion.

I understand that, for many of these questions, an answer is a Google search away. It is tempting to want to check your answers, but this can quickly become taking solutions and important ideas from some person on the internet. This enters a very gray (or worse) zone in the Honor Principle and is something that I do not support. To allow you to check yourself on certain types of problems, I will give a way to check your work.

Late work is generally not accepted unless there is a prior arrangement.


There will be two quizzes, a midterm and a final in this course. The midterm will be on Thursday, July 28th from 7-9pm. The final exam will be on Saturday, August 27th at 8am (please do not make arrangements to leave Hanover before this date). The two quizzes will be held during X-hour.


Problem Sets20%
Proof Assignments10%

The Honor Principle

Collaboration on homework is permitted and encouraged. But you must write up your solutions by yourself. If you have any questions as to whether some action would be acceptable under the Academic Honor Code, please speak to me, and I will be glad to help clarify things.

Special Considerations

I encourage any students with disabilities, including "invisible" disabilities such as chronic diseases and learning disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with me, which might help you with this class, 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. Plan on contacting me within the first week of classes.

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.