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COORDINATES: Classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30–1:45 in MSB 215. The registrar calls this Section 001.
PREREQUISITES: MATH 2710 or MATH 2142.
WEB RESOURCES: The homepage for this course is http://www.math.uconn.edu/~troby/Math3250S13/. I may list some others resources below.
SOFTWARE: For generating data to understand properties of integers, or to solve equations, computer software can be a valuable tool. Doing some computations by hand is generally good for learning, but having software that can do bigger computations or check your work is very useful. One free source on the web is WolframAlpha. For a full-fledged programming environment, check out the free open-source computer algebra system called Sage, which has a number of commands that do specialized computations in combinatorics.
GRADING: Your grade will be based on two midterm exams, one final exam, and homework.
The breakdown of points is:
MIDTERM EXAMS: Will cover all the material up to that point in the term. They are currently scheduled for THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013 and THURSDAY 25 APRIL 2013 during our usual class meeting. Please let me know immediately if you have a conflict with those dates. There are no makeup exams.
HOMEWORK: Homework will be assigned most weeks, and should be attempted by the following TUESDAY, when I will be happy to answer questions or provide hints. It will generally be due Thursdays at the start of class. Since I may discuss the homework problems in class the day they are due, late assignments will be accepted only under the most extreme circumstances. (Please let me know as soon as possible if you find yourself with a situation that might qualify.) The lowest written homework score will be dropped in any event.
You may find some homework problems to be challenging, even frustrating, leading you to spend lots of time and effort working on them. This is a natural part of doing mathematics, faced by everyone from school children to top researchers. I encourage you to work with other people in person or electronically. It's OK to get significant help from any resource, but in the end, please write your own solution in your own words. Copying someone else's work without credit is plagiarism and will be dealt with according to university policy. It also is a poor learning strategy.
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Please make sure you are familiar with and abide by The Student Code governing Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research. For quizzes and exams you may not discuss the material with anyone other than the instructor or offical proctor, and no calculators, phones, slide rules or other devices designed to aid communication or computation may be used.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Many people have influenced my approach to this material, particularly Richard Stanley, Gian-Carlo Rota, and many of my research collaborators.
CONTENT: Combinatorics is related to the word "combinations", and much of the field deals with counting problems ("enumeration"). More broadly, combinatorics considers discrete structures, such as graphs, (as opposed to the continuous structures considers in calculus and analysis) and questions that go beyond simply counting the number of possibilities. With the advent of computers in the second half of the last century, such questions have become increasingly important in applications as well as more managable to solve. Specifically, we plan to go through the following topics from the text:
ACCESSIBILITY & DISABILITY ISSUES: Please contact me and UConn's Center for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible if you have any accessibility issues, have a (documented) disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, or if you would need assistance in the event of an emergency.
LEARNING: The only way to learn mathematics is by doing it! Complete each assignment to the best of your ability, and get help when you are confused. Come to class prepared with questions. Don't hesitate to seek help from other students. Sometimes the point of view of someone who has just figured something out can be the most helpful.
Especially for learning this subject, it is important to do lots of problems—many more than I could reasonably assign you to hand in. The text has a number of problems ("Exercises") with solutions for you to try to test your understanding.
READING INCENTIVE: When you prepare for class, you may fill up to one side of an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper with any notes from the assigned reading you wish. I will collect these, and return them to you to use on the midterms or final as crib sheets. Make sure you put your name on these! Since this is an incentive for you to come to class prepared, I will only accept notes on previously covered sections if you had an excused absence.
CLASSTIME: We will sometimes spend classtime doing things in groups, presenting mathematics to one another, or having interactive discussions. There will not be time to "cover" all material in a lecture format so you will need to read and learn some topics on your own from handouts, web sources, or otherwise.
SCHEDULE: The following is a the start of a tentative schedule that I will update throughout the semester. If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with me within the first two weeks of the term to discuss any appropriate accommodations.
Use this form to send me anonymous feedback or to answer the question: How can I improve your learning in this class? I will respond to any constructive suggestions or comments in the space below the form.
Feedback & Responses
NEWS & NOTESHere are a few extra HW problems. (This file may be updated during the semester.)
Here are some other handouts:
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