MA 111 Sections 001 &002
Fall 2009

Please read this syllabus carefully.  It contains essential information about the course, grading policy, exams, etc.  If you need additional explanation, please ask your instructor.

Course: MA 111 Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics
Instructor: Megan Robertson (POT 806,
Office Hours: Tuesday 11-12 (mathskeller), Thursday 11-1 (POT 806)

Course Description: This course explores mathematical methods in a series of applied areas, such as Voting Theory, Management, Population Growth and Finance.  The course is not available to persons who have received credit in any mathematics course of a higher number with the exception of MA112, MA123, MA162, MA201, and MA202.  The course does not serve as a prerequisite for any calculus course.  Credit is not available on the basis of special examination.

Prerequisites: Two years of high school algebra and a Math ACT score of 19 or above, or MA108R, or math placement test.

Expected Course Outcome: This course should serve as an introduction into some of the math at work in the modern world.  It is my hope that most students will find some answer to the age old question “what would I ever use math for?”

Text: We will be using the book Excursions in Modern Mathematics by Peter Tannenbaum (Second Custom Edition for the University of Kentucky) published by Pearson Education, Ltd.

Schedule: The following constitutes an approximate schedule (subject to change) for the course.

August 27 – September 22           Mathematics of Voting & Weighted Voting Methods

We all know how to vote – but the more important question is “how does my vote count?”  We will discuss several common methods for counting votes and how we can determine the fairness of these methods.  We will then move to voting systems in which not every member has equal weight in decision making.

September 24 – Exam 1

September 29 – October 27        Euler Circuits & The Travelling Salesman Problem

Graphs are not just pretty pictures.  We will introduce Graph Theory and its applications to problems involving finding the best route from point A to B.  Then we will discuss ways to find the cheapest circuit in a situation where each step has a cost.

October 29 – Exam 2

November 3 – November 12      The Spiral Growth in Nature

We will discuss numbers and patterns that appear frequently in nature, including the Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio.  By understanding some of the properties of these numbers, we will try to understand the reason for their frequent appearance in nature.

November 17 – December 1       The Mathematics of Money

Most people love money.  If you want to buy a house, a car or have a savings account, you need to understand the mathematics behind your money.  We will explore various finance questions including compound interest and installment loans.

December 3 – Exam 3

Attendance: Students are expected to attend and actively participate in class regularly.  Though no points will be given or taken away on the basis of attendance, there will be in class activities and quizzes that will be missed if class is not attended.  Do yourself and your GPA a favor and come to class!

Homework: Weekly homework assignments will be given and will be graded as follows.  Each assignment will be graded out of 10 points.  Five randomly chosen problems will be graded from those assigned, with one point given for attempting the problem, and one for a correct solution.  Solutions should be written neatly, in complete sentences, and multiple pages must be stapled together.  No credit will be given for multi-page assignments that are illegible or not stapled.  No late homework will be accepted.  If you’re going to be out of town, plan ahead!

Quizzes: A short quiz worth 5 points will be given at the beginning of each class period, excluding exam days and dead week.  The quiz will be over the material covered the previous one or two class periods, as well as any assigned reading.  The highest 20 quiz scores will count toward your final grade.  Missed quizzes may not be made up.

Exams: Three exams will be given over the course of the semester.  The approximate dates will be:
September 24 – Exam 1
October 29 – Exam 2
December 3 – Exam 3
There will be no cumulative final exam.  Instead, students wishing to retake one of the three regular exams may do so on the scheduled final exam day.  Students wishing to exercise this option must sign up with the instructor and give notification of which exam they will be retaking by December 10, 2009.  The retake score, whether better or worse, will replace the original score on the chosen exam – so make sure you study!  Students with officially recognized disabilities should make an appointment with the instructor or come in during office hours to provide documentation as soon as possible and definitely within the first two weeks of class (excluding, of course, those disabilities diagnosed after this time) as alternative exam arrangements may need to be made.

Grading: Grades will be determined based on your 10 highest homework scores (20%), 20 highest quiz scores (20%), and Exam scores (20% each).  The following formula will be used:

Points Grade
Above 449 A
400 – 449 B
350 – 399 C
300 – 349 D
Below 299 E

And the following grading scale will apply:

Cheating: Students are encouraged to work in groups to understand the course material.  However, homework is intended as practice for the exams and so each student is expected to turn in his or her own work on all graded assignments.  Please note that your own work does not mean your own copy of your classmate’s work.  The number of points you may get from cheating on homework assignments (assuming you don’t get caught) will not nearly make up for the points you’ll lose on the test if you don’t know the material.  It’s not worth it.  Do your own work.  Penalties for those caught cheating may range from getting no credit on an assignment or test to receiving an E in the course, and are at the discretion of the instructor.  Tests on which a student receives no credit due to cheating may not be retaken for credit during finals week.

Calculators: For part of the course, you will need a scientific calculator.  Use of a calculator for any reason other than performing required calculations (for example, to recall a previously stored formula or use an after-market program like a financial solver installed after the calculator was purchased) will be considered cheating.

Help and Conflicts: If you need help in the course, you are highly encouraged to see your instructor during office hours or make an appointment.  In case you disagree with one of my decisions, please come to me first.  If you feel outside intervention is necessary to resolve the conflict, the first person to contact is Dr. Jakayla Robbins, Director of Service Courses (POT 767, 257-4802).

Important Dates:

Last day to add: September 1
Last day to drop: September 16
Last day to withdraw: November 6
Thanksgiving Break (No Class): November 25-28
Last day of classes: December 11
Final Exam: Section 001 (8am class) – Wednesday 12/16/09, 8:00 am
Section 002 (9:30 class) – Tuesday 12/15/09, 8:00 am


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