Mth108 Topics in Mathematics Θ Spring 2008

Providence R 9:00 - 11:45

Instructor: Dr. Nancy Eaton, 874-4439,
Office:  Tyler Hall, Rm. 208, Kingston

Office hours:  R 8:30 – 9:00

Students who require accommodations and who have documentation from
Disability Services (874-2098) should make arrangements with me as soon as possible.

Course Description and goals:  Math 108 is a special topics course that satisfies the general education requirement for math at the University of Rhode Island.  It introduces the non-mathematics student to the spirit of mathematics and its applications.  The content of the course varies from section to section and semester to semester.

In this section of this course, you will be introduced to some exciting ideas in mathematics that come from a wide variety of disciplines such as voting theory, graph theory, game theory, scheduling, counting, algebra, and fractal geometry. These topics will be presented along with real world applications such as voting schemes, fair division schemes, street networks, planning and scheduling, pattern recognition, and fractals in nature. Three skill areas are addressed, namely, reading of complex texts, use of quantitative data, and writing.

I hope that you will have a better understanding and appreciation for mathematics by the time you finish this course, that you will no longer think that math is only about balancing a check book and designing rockets, and that you will be proud to say that you LIKE math.  You may be surprised to find that taking further math courses is both possible and desirable.

We will use reading, writing, discussion, and world-wide-web assignments as methods of learning the topics covered in this course. You will discuss and work in groups in class as well as do some short presentations. Because of the high level of knowledge that will be imparted and assessed during class time, attendance will be mandatory. During class time, topics will be presented, examples given and then you will be given the opportunity to work examples on your own.

Text: The text for the course is:  Excursions In Modern Mathematics, 6th edition, by Peter Tannenbaum.  We will cover the following chapters.
1:  The Mathematics of Voting
3:  Fair Division, The Mathematics of Sharing
5:  Euler Circuits
6:  The Traveling Salesman Problem
7:  The Mathematics of Networks
8:  The Mathematics of Scheduling

Mini Excursion 2:  Download and print on a color printer – if not possible, let me know and I will provide a copy for you.

Note: There is much more material in our text than we could possibly cover this semester.  Read these entire chapters.  We will cover most of the material in these chapters.

Class work:  Examples and exercises will be worked on in class.  There will be some class discussion and working in groups.  This is a very important time to absorb the information and begin to understand how to apply it to problems.  This work will count as 10% of your grade.  I will collect names while you work in class so that I can count your work toward your grade.  No make-ups are given.  You must attend 11 out of 13 class periods to get full credit for this portion of your grade.

World wide web assignments:  I will use e-mail to send you 2 world-wide-web assignments. These will consist of the names of web sites and questions for you to answer about each site.  You are to visit these sites and respond to my e-mail with your answers to my questions. If you are unfamiliar with "surfing the web", visit a computer lab and ask for help.  Once you get started, you will find that it is a very easy thing to do. To start this process off, as soon as possible, send me an e-mail just saying hello with "MTH108" followed by your full name as the subject. Once I have an e-mail from everyone, I will send out the first assignment.  This work will count as 10% of your grade. You must do both assignments to get full credit for this portion of your grade.   The due dates are given in the e-mails.

Writing Assignments:  Short writing assignments will be given for each chapter and Mini Excursion that we cover in this course.  Follow these instructions carefully:  Write a 2 page paper, describing, in your own words, the main concepts that I covered from the specific chapter or Mini Excursion.  You must include one example to illustrate the concepts that you are describing.  Do not copy word for word any description from the book or from class.  You must first read the book, listen to what I say in class, and then put it into your own words.  Specifically,

1)      (5pts) Your header should include your name, the chapter or mini excursion number and title, and the due date.

2)      (5pts) Only use one side of the paper.  Staple together all pages.

3)   (5pts) Hand your assignment to me on the due date.  Do not send it as an e-mail.  There will be 5 pts taken off for late work – no matter the reason.  Work is not accepted more than 1 week after the due date.

4)      (5pts) Use a word processor.

5)      (5pts) Use paragraph format. You may break from paragraph format to give tables, diagrams, or equations. 

6)    (5pts)  When giving an example, write out the entire question and include any necessary charts or diagrams.

7)      (35pts) Explaining clearly.  Give enough details so that a peer of yours that hasn’t taken the class or read the book could understand the material.

8)      (35pts) Use proper terminology, in your explanations, which must be correct and thorough to get full credit.

The two lowest Writing assignment grades will be dropped.  This work will count as 15% of the final grade for the course.

Homework:   Problems are assigned from the book.  You are responsible to do all problems that are assigned.  We will work on some in class and you will hand some in as writing assignments.  It is best if you collect all of your homework in a loose-leaf notebook.  This is so that you can keep it in order and add corrections from class.  Often, one individual problem will take many passes before it is worked up correctly.  You must take the responsibility of seeing to it that you know how to correctly answer each homework problem.  Many problems will be presented in class.  Take notes and compare to your answer.  The quizzes will be based on the homework.  If you understand every homework problem then you should have no trouble on the quizzes.   These will not be collected.

Tutor:     Providence:  The Academic Skills Center, located in Room 239, offers a variety of services to students who wish to develop and sharpen their learning skills and improve their performance. Students should stop by the Center for further information and assistance or call 277-5221. All services provided by the Center are free   Kingston.

Homework assignments:  Begin working on the exercises from each chapter when it is first introduced in class.  There will be some class time allowed for going over some questions on the homework.

Exercises from chapter 1:  1-59 (odd)

Exercises from chapter 3:  1-29 (odd), 51-69 (odd)

Exercises from chapter 5:  1-43 (odd), 47-53 (odd), 59, 63

Exercises from chapter 6:  1-35 (odd), 43-63 (odd)

Exercises from chapter 7:  1-25 (odd)

Exercises from chapter 8:  1-11 (odd), 17-29 (odd), 33-49 (odd), 53, 55, 63-67 (odd)

Exercises from chapter 11:  27, 29, 33-45 (odd), 49, 51

Quizzes:   Quizzes will be given based on the homework.  Problems will be selected at random from the homework to demonstrate your understanding of the material.  The two lowest quiz grades will be dropped and the rest will be averaged to give 15% of the grade for the course.  If you miss a quiz, come to the next class at 8:30 to make it up.  If this is a problem let me know.

Exams:   Three exams will be given on the material from the chapters indicated.  The exam questions will be based on the homework questions.  To prepare, make sure you understand homework and quiz solutions.  Practice exams can be downloaded from this web site and solution keys will be given after all have completed the exam.

Final exam:  The final will be cumulative.  It will cover chapters that were covered on the previous 3 exams, namely, Chapters 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Course schedule:  The following is the schedule of events.  When a chapter is listed, we begin to cover the material in that chapter.  After introducing a chapter, we will used class periods to finish covering the chapter and going over examples and exercises.

Week of

Introduce Chapter

Writing Assignment  Due

Quizzes and Exams

Thurs 1/24

Ch 1



Thurs 1/31




Thurs 2/7

Ch 3



Thurs 2/14


WA1-Chapter 1


Thurs 2/21

Ch 5

WA2-Chapter 3

Quiz 1 (on Ch1)

Thurs 2/28

Ch 6


Quiz 2 (on Ch3)

Thurs 3/6


WA3-Chapter 5

EXAM 1 (on 1 & 3) 

Thurs 3/13

Ch 7

WA4-Chapter 6

Quiz 3 (on Ch 5)

Thurs 3/27

Ch 8


Quiz 4 (on Ch 6)

Thurs 4/3


WA5-Chapter 7

EXAM 2 (on 5 & 6)

Thurs 4/10

Mini Ex 2

WA6-Chapter 8

Quiz 5 (on Ch 7)

Thurs 4/17



Quiz 6 (on Ch 8)

Thurs 4/14


WA7-Mini Ex 2 

EXAM 3 (on 7 & 8)

Thurs 5/8

8:00 – 11:00



Final Exam

(on  1, 3, 5, 6, 7, & 8)


Evaluation: The following percentages are given to compute your grade for the course.  Each category is described above.

10% - Class participation

10% - World-wide-web assignments

15% - Writing assignments

15% - Quizzes

30% - Three 1 hr exams

20% - Final Exam

After rounding up to the nearest whole number your grade is determined by the following scale.

A(92-100) A-(90,91) B+(87,88,89) B(82-86) B-(80,81) C+(77,78,79) C(72-76) C-(70,71) D+(65-69) D(60-64)

Summary of Policies:

Quizzes: Make-ups are given before class at 8:30.

Writing assignments: You may hand in any assignment on or before the due date.  If it is one week late, 5 pts will be deducted.   No assignments will be accepted after that unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exams You must take all exams during the assigned class period, unless you have made arrangements with me in advance.  If you are sick on the exam date, call my office and leave a message or send me an email, saying that you are sick.  We will make arrangements for a makeup as soon as you are feeling better.  This can usually be done before class.

Attendance: I give work in class and it counts 10% toward your grade.  I keep a record of who participates in the class assignments by collecting your names during the assignment.  If you are not there, you can’t do this work, and this part of your grade will suffer.  There are 13 classes and you must attend 11 to get full credit for this portion of your grade.


Integrated Skills for General Education:

This course has been approved as a general education course.  As such, it must focus on at least three integrated skills.  They are:

1.      Read complex texts.

2.      Use of quantitative data.

3.      Write effectively.


Practice for Exams:

Practice for Exam 1 Solutions

Practice for Exam 2 Solutions

Practice for Exam 3 (including solution)



URI Civility Policy

The University of Rhode Island is committed to developing and actively protecting a class environment in which respect must be shown to everyone in order to facilitate the expression, testing, understanding, and creation of a variety of ideas and opinions. Rude, sarcastic, obscene or disrespectful speech and disruptive behavior have a negative impact on everyone's learning and are unacceptable. The course instructor will have disruptive persons removed from the class.