92.420/520 Mathematical Problem Solving

Summer 2015 Syllabus

SIS information

Instructor: Prof. K. Levasseur -- kenneth_levasseur@uml.edu

The main focus of the course will be to solve problems. Most of the problems will be in the area of graph theory. We will start from scratch, defining a graph and working from first principles.

Meeting dates:

The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays, 6 - 9 PM, starting May 18, with a few Fridays thrown in. Last class will be on June 25.

I will out of town in the middle of the first week of class. We will meet on Monday May 18 and Friday May 22 that week, but not on May 20. I plan to arrange an online meeting for that night only using GoToMeeting. You won't need a GoToMeeting account. If you want to use a mobile device for this meeting, you will need to get a free app.

Although this course has an online component, it is primarily face-to-face. Therefore, it is essential that you attend all classes unless you are excused for a valid professional or medical reason. Due to the nature of the course, it will be difficult make up work missed due to an absence.


Graph Theory, by Martin Lewinter, Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics, http://www.jiblm.org/guides/index.aspx?category=guilfordjournal - This is a free pdf. We will spend much of the semester working on problems from this document.

Web Resource

This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. You will get an invitation to join our Piazza class prior to the first class meeting. We will use Piazza to develop polished solutions to graph theory problems. The system is also catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates and myself. Rather than emailing questions to me, I encourage you to post your questions (either private or public) on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email team@piazza.com.


Final grades will be based on three components:
  1. Class participation, in which students will work on problems, mostly in groups, to solve problems and present solutions to the class. This is 40% of the final grade. Your grade in this component will be reduced by unprofessional behavior such as absences, lateness, leaving class early, inappropriate cell phone/laptop usage, and disruptions.
  2. Written exposition of solutions that were developed in class on the course wiki. Showing someone the solution to a problem in person can be very different from writing it for someone to read it in the future. For each problem, a student (not necessarliy the student who solves the problem in class, will need to write up a solution. This is 20% of the final grade.
  3. A final project, in which each student will reflect on the problems that he/she worked on, including at least one open-ended problem that will be assigned at mid semester. This is 20% of the final grade
  4. Exams

Mathematical Practice Standards

The connection between this course and K-12 mathematics teaching is best described through the web site Implementing Mathematical Practice Standards.