Math 100
Elements of Modern Mathematics
Spring 2001

Course Home Page

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[Course Participation] [Homework Guidelines]

Randall Pruim
office: North Hall 284
phone: (616) 957-7113

Time & Location
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:30-2:20pm, in North Hall 259

Office hours
Regular office hours are currently scheduled for
Mondays 3:30-4:20
Tuesdays 1:30-2:20
Wednesdays 12:30-1:20
Fridays 3:30-4:20
If these times do not work for you, other times can be arranged by appointment. Alternatively, you can simply stop by my office and see if I am available.

Course Description

This is a course in mathematics designed to meet the needs of students in the humanities and liberal arts. The course will focus on some of the major ideas of mathematics and the impact of these ideas on culture. The course has three major goals: I hope you will come to see mathematics as a human activity that requires creativity and imagination and can result in beauty as well as applications. Our goal is to learn to appreciate mathematics and to discover the power of mathematical thinking and to have some fun doing it.

In many ways this course will be different from other mathematics courses you may have had in the past. It is not intended to develop a specific set of computation skills. I will ask you to think, to analyze, and to "figure out" rather than to work many routine exercises. We will focus our attention on ideas rather than on computations.


The only prerequisites are an open mind and a willingness to engage it while putting aside any preconceived prejudices or expectations about mathematics or mathematics courses.

Internet Resources

I will maintain an email list of all students registered in this class and will occasionally use it to distribute information and reminders of various things pertaining to this course. If you do not know how to access your email, please talk to someone at the IT help desk. If you prefer to read your email from an account other than your calvin student account, send me email with the email address you prefer. You can also send email to the class list or particular students in the class via BlackBoard.

Web Pages
In addition to this home page, I will also maintain a list of web resources pertaining to this course. You are responsible for any information appearing on the course web pages. Items I have prepared and maintain online include

BlackBoard CourseInfo
I am also making partial use of Calvin's BlackBoard CourseInfo instructional resources. You can go to BlackBoard to check your grades, to send email to individuals or groups in the class, and to read all the other information (like this page) that I have on line. For more information on how to use CourseInfo, see the online tutorial. Except for your grades, all of this information will available directly from the web without going through BlackBoard if you prefer.

Other Important Information

See me
If you are having difficulty with any portion of the course, do not hesitate to see me. Do this as soon as possible, certainly well in advance of any deadlines (like tests) so that we can work to fix the problem.

The required text for this course is
The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking, by Burger and Starbird.

Additional readings may also be assigned from time to time.

Grading will be based on the following approximate weighting:
        Tests         60%	(Feb 26, April 4, May 7)
        Final Exam    20%	(Monday, May 14 at 9:00 am)
        Other         20%
Other includes Homework, corse participation, and any other assignments made.

The final exam will cover material from the entire semester. If your final exam is better than your worst test, then your final exam score will replace your worst test score, (making the final worth 40%).

Homework will be assigned nearly every class period. A calendar and a list problem sets will be maintained online.

Prior to each assignment, make sure you have read the corresponding material from the textbook. Read slowly and think carefully about the ideas being presented. You may find the assigments in this class to be somewhat different from what you have had in other mathematics classes in that they will not all be routine repetitions of skills. There may be fewer problems that you are expecting, but each one will require more thought.

Joint Work
You may find it pleasant and useful to work together on many portions of this course. I encourage you to do so. BUT you must write up your own solutions to each exercise (unless your have been instructed to work in groups).

Attendance is required. If you miss class, you are missing an important part of this course, and it is your responsibility to find out what has happened in class. In class we will be doing activities that reinforce the ideas covered in the textbook, discussing readings and ideas, and answering questions. These are difficult things to replace in any other way.

Although I will not "take attendence" every day, failure to participate in in-class activities will hurt your participation grade.

Preparing for class
You should bring with you each day: Of course, you should have read (and thought about) any assigned readings prior to coming to class. You may want to have your notes handy, especially if you have questions regarding the readings or homework.

Special Circumstances
Occasionally there are special circumstances that require that the rules and guidelines above be adjusted for a particular student. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the student to inform me of the situation as soon as possible, so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. This includes, but is not limited to, students with documented disabilities.

This page maintained by:
Randall Pruim
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Calvin College

Last Modified: Thursday, 01-Feb-2001 09:39:48 EST