Introduction to Chaos and Fractals

Winter 2000

Course Overview

Instructor: Dave Feldman Email:
Office: Third Floor Arts and Sciences Phone: x249, 244-9836
Mailing List: Office Hours: TBA
Tutors: Rita Turner Help Sessions: TBA

Course Overview

As our primary text we will use Chaos, Fractals, and Dynamics: Computer Experiments in Mathematics, by Bob Devaney. I would like to cover most of this book.

We will also read Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick. I have several goals for this course:

  1. I want you to gain a solid understanding of the basic mathematical ideas behind chaos and fractals.
  2. I want to help you improve your quantitative literacy, problem solving skills, and mathematical confidence.
  3. 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.


Your evaluation will be based on the following: 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, etc.

Policies and Stuff: First Draft

  1. The final version of this and related documents can be found on the course web page,
  2. Homework will be due Fridays at the end of the day. More than one unexcused late homework assignment will result in me mentioning this in your narrative evaluation and may result in a lowering of your grade.
  3. 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.
  4. The midterm will be open notes, open book, and (essentially) untimed. You may not, however, get any help from any humans during the exam.
  5. I don't know what we'll do for a final thing: exam, paper, project, ... ? We'll decide in the first few weeks of the term. I want to get to know you better before deciding what to do.
  6. I will almost always assign reading for each class. You should do the reading, and come prepared with some questions or areas that you want to discuss.
  7. You will write three short (2 page) papers exploring ideas from the book by Gleick. Information about what's expected for the short papers can be found in a separate document.
  8. More than two missing homework assignments will result in a grade no higher than a C.
  9. 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 assignments.
  10. I expect you to attend class and labs.
  11. 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 last winter.

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