This course is, in some important ways, different than most other
courses I offer. Also, I suspect that this class will be very
different than math classes you have taken elsewhere. To get the most
out of the course, it's important that you know what to expect.|
- This course is a survey course. My goal is to give you a good
introduction to a wide range of really cool, fun, modern topics. Due
to time constraints we will not be able to go into enormous depth into
any one topic.
- My experience has been that some of you may find the survey nature
of this course somewhat frustrating. The only alternative is not
covering some topics, which would mean we would miss out on some stuff
that's too good to miss out on.
- Although this is a math course, and although calculus is a
prerequisite, most topics we cover will bear little resemblance to
things you've done in other math classes. You'll be exposed to many
different styles of thought and, hopefully, go through some fun mental
- I expect that this course will be fairly interdisciplinary,
especially in the final projects you chose to do. We will do readings
from math, theoretical physics, and computer sciences books and
articles. We will probably also read at least one anthropology
article and perhaps some short fiction.
- We will also frequently discuss what lessons, if any, a given
topic might have for other fields, including biology, ecology,
economics, and political science. There will be ample room for lively
- I hope this course is a beginning and not an end. If you're
frustrated that you don't have time to learn all the details about a
particular topic or idea, don't worry. You have many years left to
- Particularly at first, we'll be jumping from topic to topic. The
topics may seem disconnected, but eventually a handful of
themes will emerge.
- The topics we'll be covering are, to different degrees, all areas
of active research. This means that for many topics there are few
textbook-style readings appropriate for the level of the class. So on
some occasions we'll have to read some current review articles or
rely on my lectures or lecture notes. This also means that we will
encounter many open questions and some disagreement along the way.