Math 1900 - Survey of Mathematical Ideas (HC)

Section 100, Control number 40908
Fall Semester 2009
Department of Mathematics
Western Michigan University

Updated September 1, 2009.

Time and location:  Class meets 2 - 3:50 p.m., MW, in 1118 Rood Hall.  Final exam is Monday, December 14, 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Instructor:  Jay A. Wood, 6617 Everett Tower, 387-4812, email: jay(dot)wood(at)wmich(dot)edu .

Office hours:  11 a.m. -12 noon, MWF, or by appointment.

Course description (from the undergraduate catalog):  "A survey of significant, active areas of mathematics with the emphasis on concepts rather than calculations. The historical origin and development of certain mathematical ideas will be included. The areas of mathematics investigated will include topics from set theory, probability theory, number theory, computer mathematics, and graph theory. This course will not satisfy any program requirements in mathematics."  We will explore some "turning points" in mathematics, while studying certain topics (including non-euclidean geometry) more deeply.

Prerequisites & Corequisites: Prerequisite: MATH 1100 or satisfactory score on Mathematics Department placement mechanism. ACT/SAT score of 19/460 or greater.

Credits: 4 hours

Textbooks:  Donald M. Davis, The Nature and Power of Mathematics, Dover, 1993/2004.
          G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology, Cambridge University Press, 1940/2009.  (Any edition or publisher is acceptable.)
          Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Dover, 1884/1992.  (Any edition or publisher is acceptable.)

Calculator:  No calculator required.

Homework:  Here is the list of homework assignments for the semester.  Due dates will be announced in class.

Grades:  Grades will be based on homework exercises (worth 20% of the class grade), two reaction papers (worth a total of 10%), two midterm exams (worth a total of 30%), a project (worth 10%), and a final exam (worth 30%).  When calculating grades, I will be at least as generous as 90% for an A, 85% for a BA, 80% for B, 75% for CB, 70% for C, 65% for DC, and 60% for D.

Exam dates:    Midterm exam dates are Wednesday, September 30, and Wednesday, October 28.  Final exam is Monday, December 14, 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Collaboration:  You may work together on homework, but not papers, projects, or exams.  If you do work together, or if you receive assistance from someone else, please say so on your paper (e.g., "I worked with Karen Uhlenbeck on problems 5 and 7, and with Ingrid Daubechies on problems 10 and 15").  Each person is responsible for writing up his/her own version of the solution.

Accommodation for Disabilities:  Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact Ms. Beth Denhartigh at 387-2116 or at at the beginning of the semester. A disability determination must be made by this office before any accommodations are provided by the instructor.

Student Conduct and Academic Honesty (wording courtesy of the WMU Faculty Senate's Professional Concerns Committeee):
"You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. [The policies can be found at under Academic Policies, Student Rights and Responsibilities.] If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with your instructor if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test."

Please visit and to access the Code of Honor and general academic policies on such issues as diversity, religious observance, student disabilities, etc.