General Information

Course Description
Our capacity to fathom the world around us hinges on our ability to understand quantities which are inherently unpredictable. Therefore, in order to gain more accurate mathematical models of the natural world we must incorporate probability into the mix. This course will serve as an introductions to the foundations of probability theory. Topics covered will include some of the following: (discrete and continuous) random variables, random vectors, multivariate distributions, expectations; independence, conditioning, conditional distributions and expectations; law of large numbers and the central limit theorem; random walks and Markov chains. There is an honors version of this course: see MATH 60.

MATH 8 is a prerequisite for this course. If you're unsure about your preparation, please contact the instructor. Prior experience coding (especially with R) may be helpful, but is not required.

Instructor Office Office Hours Email
Christopher Coscia 243 Kemeny Hall M: 1:45-3
Tu: 12:15-1:15
Th: 4:30-5:45

We will use two textbooks for this course.
Probability for the Enthusiastic Beginner by Morin (ISBN: 978-1523318674)
Introduction to Probability by Grinstead and Snell (ISBN: 0-8218-0749-8)
The second textbook is available for free at the link above.

Scheduled Lectures
MWF 11:30 am - 12:35 pm
Tu 12:15 - 1:05 pm (x-hour)
Kemeny 006
We will use x-hour occasionally to make up for missed lectures, practice coding, and develop proof techniques.

Exams and Other Important Dates
First Lecture Friday, June 22
Midterm Exam 1 Tuesday, July 10, 4:30-6:30 pm Kemeny 007
Lab Assignment 1 Due Monday, July 23, in class
Midterm Exam 2 Thursday, August 2, 4:30-6:30 pm Kemeny 007
Withdraw Deadline Tuesday, August 7
Lab Assignment 2 Due Friday, August 10, in class
Final Lecture Wednesday, August 22
Final Exam Saturday, August 25, 8-11 am Kemeny 007


  • Written homework will be posted to the assignments page, and must be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date. There will be an assignment due every week.
  • Though weekly assignments may not always be graded out of the same number of points, each will ultimately be weighted equally.
  • In addition to the assigned problems, a number of additional practice problems will be posted with each lecture. The best way to become familiar with mathematical concepts is by doing a bunch of problems! As such, the problems should be considered mandatory, but I will not collect them or check that you have done them. Also, don't restrict yourself to the listed questions -- there are lots of great problems in each section of the books. The answers to the odd-numbered problems from Grinstead and Snell may be found here.
  • All homework should be stapled and clearly legible (if I can't read your writing, I can't grade the assignment). Problems must be clearly numbered.
  • No unexcused late submissions will be accepted. Your lowest homework score for the term will be dropped. This is not designed so that you may simply skip some of the assignments; my intention is that you use this drop if you are sick, injured, or otherwise unable to complete an assignment.
  • Consult the honor principle (below) as it applies to this course.


  • In addition to weekly homework, there will also be two Lab assignments in which students will be asked to perform simulations and analysis. Each of the two Lab assignments will be worth 5% of the final course grade. No prior programming experience is needed. We will use a couple of the x-hours to practice coding in the R programming language.
  • Late Lab assignments will not be accepted under any circumstances. You should start early so that you can ask about any issues that may arise.
  • Consult the honor principle (below) as it applies to this course.


  • There will be three out-of class exams: two midterms and a final.
  • The exam dates are listed above. If you have a conflict with one or more of these exam times, please let me know by Monday, July 9 so that I can plan accommodations accordingly.
  • Consult the honor principle (below) as it applies to this course. In particular, the use of calculators will not be permitted.

The course grade will be based upon the scores on weekly homework, two midterm exams, and the final exam. After final scores are calculated, I reserve the right to adjust borderline grades (always positively!) based on evidence of strong effort throughout the course. Your course score will be computed as follows:
Homework 20%
Lab (Coding) Assignments (2) 5% (each)
Midterm Exams (2) 20% (each)
Final Exam 30%

The Honor Principle

On Homework and Labs: Collaboration is permitted and encouraged, but no copying! What a student turns in as a homework solution is to be his or her own understanding of how to do the problems. The solutions you submit must be written by you alone. Any copying (electronic or otherwise) of another person's solutions, in whole or in part, is a violation of the Academic Honor Code.
On Exams: Students may not receive assistance of any kind from any source (living, published, electronic, etc), except the professor, and may not give assistance to anyone. Matters of clarification are to be left to the professor.

If you have any questions as to whether some action would be acceptable under the Academic Honor Code, please speak to your instructor, and we will be glad to help clarify things. It is always easier to ask beforehand.

You can view the Academic Honor Principle in its entirety here.

Special Considerations
Students with disabilities who may need disability-related academic adjustments and services for this course are encouraged to see their instructor privately as early in the term as possible. Students requiring disability-related academic adjustments and services must consult the Student Accessibility Services office (Carson Hall, Suite 125, 646-9900). Once SAS has authorized services, students must show the originally signed SAS Services and Consent Form and/or a letter on SAS letterhead to their instructor. As a first step, if students have questions about whether they qualify to receive academic adjustments and services, they should contact the SAS office. All inquiries and discussions will remain confidential.

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.

C. Coscia
Last updated August 10, 2018