Logistics for Math 475 (Introduction to Combinatorics)
Spring Semester 2006

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:45 a.m., B119 Van Vleck

Teacher: Prof. James Propp

Office: 813 Van Vleck Hall

Phone: 608-253-5148

Email: propp@math.wisc.edu

Office/cafe hours (until further notice):
Tuesdays: 10:50-11:50 in my office
Tuesdays: 2:45-4:00 at Steep and Brew (544 State St.)
Wednesdays: 1:30-3:30 at Steep and Brew
Thursdays: 10:50-11:50

Textbook: Richard Brualdi's "Introductory Combinatorics" (4th edition, 2004).

Grading for the course will be based upon homework score (50%), midterm score (30%), and final exam score (30%), with the lowest 10% being dropped. (That is: your grade will be calculated three different ways, using the weighting 40%-30%-30%, the weighting 50%-20%-30%, and the weighting 50%-30%-20%; the number that comes out highest will be used as your grade.) All students taking Math 475 are expected to attend classes, do the reading in advance, ask good questions, and make serious attempts to answer questions raised by me or by students during class. I allow myself the option of raising a student's grade based upon unusually good participation in class.

Typically there will be one homework assignment per week, due one week after it is assigned. Cooperation on homework is allowed, indeed encouraged. (The two in-class exams must of course be done individually.) Extensions will be granted only under unusual circumstances. The lowest two homework scores will be dropped (including 0's for assignment not turned in or not turned in on time). Homework will be graded on the basis of clarity of expression as well as mathematical correctness.

The midterm will take place in class on Tuesday, March 7.

The two-hour final exam will take place on Tuesday, May 9 at 12:25 p.m. in B119 Van Vleck.

Many students find this course fun, but it involves a considerable amount of work. You should be devoting at least 8 hours a week to the course outside of class: reading the book, thinking about the ideas and techniques, talking to your classmates, doing the recommended warm-up assignments, doing the required write-up assignments, etc.

Note that not all of the material that you will be responsible for will be discussed in class, nor is it all in the book; to learn everything you need to know, both regular reading of the text and regular attendance of class is required. The reading assignments (sections of the text) should be done BEFORE the class in which they are discussed.

Your submissions for the homework should be well-presented in good English, as if you were writing an explanation for one of your classmates. (The solutions I post on the web should not be taken as a model, since I may be more terse than I want you to be. The grader's comments should help you get a sense of how much detail is required. If you ever have any questions about what to include and what to leave out, feel free to send me email.)

While you can discuss the exercises with classmates, the work you hand in should be your own write-up and not copied from someone else. When leaving a joint homework-solving session, "don't carry away anything that doesn't fit in your own brain". Also, you must acknowledge who you worked with. (If you didn't work with anyone, please write "I worked alone on this assignment".)

On your homeworks, please write down how much time you spent on each individual problem; that will help me assess how hard the problems are. (This will prevent me from inadvertently assigning too much work, or too little. It will also benefit the students who take the course from me in the future, as I'll be able to spread the work-load more evenly through the semester.) There will be a nominal point-penalty (1% of your homework grade) if you repeatedly neglect to give information about how much time you spent on problems and who you worked with.

On both homeworks and exams, calculators are not to be used. All arithmetic is to be exact (e.g., 7/9 rather than .777, and sqrt(2) rather than 1.414).

I encourage you to attend office hours. And not just for your sake --- for mine too. For one thing, explaining things on-one-one often gives me ideas on how to explain things to a large group. Each time I give a class that I've taught before, my presentation is enhanced by the feedback I've gotten from people who came to office hours years before. Also, my cafe hours do double-duty by serving many students as a sort of supervised study-session.

Maintained by propp@math.wisc.edu.

Last updated January 26, 2006.