I have several main goals for this course:
- I want to have fun. There are a ton of fun math topics that I
would like to cover in this course. Tastes vary, but hope that you'll
find most of them to be pretty neat.
- I want to expose you to a variety of different styles and flavors
of mathematics. This includes some discrete math (no calculus),
differential equations (calculus), some computer work, and some fairly
abstract and symbolic stuff.
- I want you to continue to hone your quantitative reasoning skills.
Our primary text will be Understanding
Nonlinear Dynamics (UND) by Daniel Kaplan and Leon Glass. We will
also be using The
Computational Beauty of Nature (CBN) by Gary Flake. You might wish
to purchase a copy of the latter. We'll discuss this in class.
At a bare minimum, I would like to cover all of chapters 1 and 3, and
much of chapter 2, from UND. I
anticipate augmenting chapter 2 with some readings and assignments
from another source, most likely CBN. Additionally, I would like to
spend about a week on symbolic dynamics. This topic is not covered in
either UND or CBN; I will probably provide some lecture notes for this
material and we'll go over it carefully in class.
This should still leave plenty of time to cover additional topics.
I'm counting on input from you to determine which way we go. In the
first half of the course I'll aim to give you a taste of a bunch of
different topics. It's up to you to help me select a menu for the
rest of the course.
Your evaluation will be based on the following:
There will be no exams. I will assign grades (for those who so opt) by
following the guidelines on page
8 of the COA Course Catalog. I do not have any quota of A's, B's,
- Weekly Homework Assignments: 50 percent.
- Final Project: 35 percent.
- Class and Lab Participation: 10 percent.
- Personal Essay: 5 percent.
- Can take many forms -- need not be a paper. We will discuss as
a class whether or not we want to have a set of presentations open to
the coa community, or if we just want to present to the class.
- Should be on some topic that's interesting to you.
- Must be more than a "book report"; you should do
something: some analysis, programming, problems, etc.
- You and I share responsibility for the project. I will try to
meet with you all individually and discuss possible projects. But you
also need to take some initiative; if you're feeling lost or confused,
be assertive and find me sooner rather than later.
- I strongly encourage you to work on projects in groups. Perhaps
you'll end up doing separate projects, but maybe a few of you have
broadly similar interests. If this is the case, I suggest doing some
common background readings and meeting to discuss as a group.
- I will give you more information about project expectations
sometime during week two.
Towards the end of the term, I'd like you to write a paper in which you
think critically some about what we've been learning. This should not
be a research paper. The paper should be about three pages in length
and will be evaluated on the basis of the clarity of your writing and
the degree to which your paper exhibits original and critical
thought. Don't worry about this for now; we'll discuss this more
fully around week 3.
Policies and Stuff
- The final version of the course syllabus will be on the course web
page. The syllabus and all policies are open to negotiation.
- All course work must be completed by the end of the term. I will not grant
an incomplete except in extreme circumstances.
- More than two missing homework assignments will result in a grade no
higher than a C.
- I expect you to attend class. Please let me know if you going to
miss a class.
- 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.
- 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 statement on academic
misconduct passed unanimously by the faculty last winter.
[ Dave ]
[ COA ]
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