University of Rhode Island MTH316: Algebra
Spring 2017

General Information

Instructor: Tom Sharland
email: tsharland "at" uri "dot" edu
Lectures: TTH 11.00-12.15, Lippitt 201
Office: Lippitt Hall 202F
Office hours:Monday 3-4, Wednesday 11-12, Thursday 3-4 or by appointment

Course description: This is an introductory course in abstract algebra and more precisely on group theory. Starting from the definitions, we will prove a number of fundamental results about these algebraic structures. There will be an emphasis on proofs in this course, so some mathematical maturity will be expected.

This course will be relatively fast-paced, so in order to keep up with the material, you should be prepared to spend sufficient time outside of class attempting practice problems and reading and understanding your notes and textbook.

Textbook: Contemporary Abstract Algebra (9th ed.) by Joseph A. Gallian. If you happen to have the 8th edition, this should be fine - I will try to accommodate any differences when setting homework. The author has a webpage dedicated to the book, you can find it by following this link. The second, third and fourth items are particularly enlightening and well worth reading.

Prerequisites: MTH 215 and MTH 307.

Homework and Quizzes: Homework will be assigned weekly and will contain two components. Each week I will highlight in bold font three questions, one of which (your choice) should be carefully solved and handed in at the start of class on the following Tuesday - this is the first component. You are expected to produce legible, well argued answers with full explanations. The second component will be weekly quizzes (no notes allowed) which will be based on (but not necessarily exactly the same as) the questions in the homework. Some leeway will be given on these answers due to time constraints. Each component will contribute half-weight to the total homework score, thus each is worth 10% of the total grade.

You are positively encouraged to work together on the homework assignments. However, you should write up your submitted solutions on your own - this will ensure you understand the answer. To check for this (and to prevent plagiarism), I may on occasion set a quiz question that was on the submitted homework. I am more than happy to discuss the homework in office hours, but will at most provide very small advice on the submitted questions. You are also expected to keep up with the reading to maintain pace with the class. I will post suggested reading each week. Note that mathematical reading is different from reading a novel or magazine: you will need to concentrate on the exact words and phrases, and probably use a pen/cil and paper to verify some of the claims made for yourself. The textbook is designed to complement your notes, so take advantage of both!

Grade breakdown: The grading scheme will be as follows:

  • Quizzes/Homework: 20%
  • Midterm I: 20% - on 03/07 in class.
  • Midterm II: 25% - on 04/18 in class.
  • Final: 35%. - 8am on 05/04.
The final will be cumulative, and for this reason a strong performance on the final will be taken into account when calculating the final letter grade. There are no plans for extra credit.