Intro to Chaos and Fractals
What to Expect
This class is quite likely very different than other math classes you
may have taken. Given this, it's important to know what to expect, so
you know what you're getting in to.
- This class is an introductory math class. I will review topics
as necessary and there will be ample opportunity to get help from me
and math tutors outside of class. However, if math is a subject you
really, really struggle with, this might not be the course for you.
If you were ok at math
in high school, but didn't like it and/or have forgotten most of it,
then this is probably an ok course for you. On the other hand, if you
had significant difficulty with algebra, and feel like it's something
you've never understood, this course might be frustrating for you.
- If you have taken calculus before, I strongly recommend that you
not take this class. You should take Chaos and Complex Systems,
instead, which I'll teach in Fall 2006.
- Falling behind in this course is not a good idea. If you're
confused about something, it's very important that you seek help
sooner rather than later. There are many people around who can offer
help. However, we can't offer assistance if we don't know who needs
it when. You need to take responsibility to seek help if you need
it. On a related note ...
- I do not expect all of the homework assignments to be easy; I don't
expect you to be able to sit down and do them right away.
Don't let yourself get frustrated -- I strongly suggest working with
others and seeking help if you need it.
- You will be writing papers for this course. These papers will be
short response papers and can be entirely non-technical. I have found
that many students enjoy the chance to reflect upon the reading;
some students, however find writing about math and science to be
uncomfortable and/or difficult.
- In many traditional math classes the instructor shows you how to
do a bunch of problems, you go home and obediently practice the stuff
your instructor showed you, and then you take a test. This class will
not be like that -- there will be some traditional-style homework, but
there will be many other exercises too.
- Many of the homework assignments are more like laboratory
exercises. That is, rather than doing a quick problem and getting a
simple answer, I'll ask you to explore some stuff, make observations,
and look for patterns. Frequently these assignments will have
open-ended questions. You will enjoy these assignments more (and do
better on them) if you approach them as you would a good laboratory
exercise in a science class.
- This class is not a systematic review of algebra or trigonometry;
it is not explicitly designed to prepare you for further math
- The exact syllabus for this is quite flexible; feedback is
encouraged, and will help make the class better.
- I have taught this class five times before, and over the course of
those classes have developed a bunch of lecture notes. This term I'm
going to work to pull these lecture notes into book form. So, almost
every class you'll get a few photocopied chapters. Although I will
work hard to try and prevent this, I'm certain that there will be some
typos and errors in this first draft. I think the benefit of having
an actual book for this course will outweigh any potential drawbacks
due to typos in the book draft.
- The material we'll be reading about in Gleick's book, and the work
we'll do in my book and in class will shift in and out of phase with
each other. The two books don't cover the same topics in the same
order. In the past this hasn't been a problem; it's just something to
be aware of.
- In terms of the math stuff we'll be doing, it will take a few
weeks to get to the chaos material. Before we do, what we're doing
might seem odd. The initial exercises we do might seem odd or
irrelevant, but this phase of the course is essential groundwork for
what's to follow.
- I will be giving you many, many handouts, most of them chapters of
book. You may want to buy a binder in which to keep them.
- This is the first time that there will be labs. I think these
labs will add a lot to the course. However, since this is the first
time I've gone done this, I'm certain there will be a few things that
don't work as planned.
[Chaos and Fractals]