Introduction to Chaos and Fractals
Office: Second Floor, Turrets Annex
Phone: x249, 276-5284|
Mailing List: email@example.com
Office Hours: Basically whenever I'm around, which is a lot.
Stop by anytime, or email or call if you want to set up a time in
Tutors: Ian Mohler (?)
Help Sessions: Wednesdays, 6:30 - 8:00 pm, TAB.
I would...urge that people be introduced to [chaos] early in their
mathematical education. [Chaos] can be studied phenomenologically by
iterating it on a calculator, or even by hand. Its study does not
involve as much conceptual sophistication as does elementary
calculus. Such study would greatly enrich the student's intuition.
Not only in research, but also in the everyday world of politics and
economics, we would all be better off if more people realised that
simple nonlinear systems do not necessarily possess simple dynamical
Sir Robert May, 1976
I have several goals for this course:
- I want you to gain a solid understanding of the basic mathematical
ideas behind chaos and fractals. As part of this, I hope you'll leave
this course thinking somewhat differently about order and disorder,
simplicity and complexity.
- I want to help you improve your quantitative literacy, problem
solving skills, and mathematical confidence.
- I want you to gain a sense of how math and physics is done, and
gain an awareness that these are not static, "dead" disciplines. I
want you to gain a greater understanding of science as an institution
and science as a culture.
Textual Materials: We will read Chaos: Making a New
Science by James Gleick. This is a "popular science" book and is
not a traditional text. For more mathy information, we will use
many worksheets and handouts developed by Bob Devaney and co-workers.
I will hand these out in class. We will also read a bunch of articles
and use some short materials that I've written.
Your evaluation will be loosely based on the following:
I recommend against grades; I believe they are more likely than not to
interfere with genuine, reflective learning. However, I will assign
grades (for those who so opt) by following the guidelines in the COA
Course Catalog. I do not have any quota of A's, B's, etc.
- Weekly Homework Assignments: 45 percent.
- Final Project: 25 percent.
- Class Participation: 15 percent.
- Short Papers: 15 percent.
Class Structure and Policies
- The final version of this and related documents can be found on
the course web page, http://hornacek.coa.edu/dave/Teaching/Chaos+Fractals.S05.
- Homework will usually be due Fridays at the end of the day. More
than one unexcused late homework assignment will likely result in me
mentioning this in your narrative evaluation and may result in a
lowering of your grade.
- You are strongly encouraged to work together on homework. You
can also consult me, class tutors, other faculty, friends,
and family. However, the homework you hand in should represent
your own understanding. This means that if your friends get a
homework problem and you don't understand how they did it,
you shouldn't photocopy their solution and turn it in.
- There will be no exams. However, there may be a large-ish,
synthetic assignment toward the end of the term.
- You will do a final project for this class. If you wish, you can
collaborate with other students. Although projects and take varying
forms, most will end up giving presentation
of around 15 minutes
towards the end of the term. For
more info, see the project
- There will frequently be reading assigned for class. When this
is the case, you should prepare several questions or comments on the
reading, and get them to me by 9pm the evening before class. Email or
paper is fine.
- You will write three short (2 page) papers exploring ideas from
the book by Gleick and/or our discussions. Information about
what's expected for the short papers can be found here.
- We will probably need to schedule an extra class or two during
weeks 9 or 10 so we have enough time for the presentations.
- More than two missing homework assignments will result in a grade
no higher than a C.
- As I plan on sending out homework assignments and other
information via email, it is important that you check your email
regularly. Also, you will need to use the www for some of your
- I expect you to attend class.
- Academic misconduct -- cheating, plagarizing, etc. -- is bad. Any
cases of academic misconduct will result in a judicial hearing, as
per pp. 14-15 of the COA handbook. Possible consequences range
from failure of the assignment to expulsion. For more, see the revised statement on academic
integrity passed by the faculty several years ago..
- For a more informal description of this course, see a list of
what to expect.
[ Dave ]
[ Chaos and Fractals ]
[ COA ]
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