Math 353: Advanced Topics in Discrete Applied Mathematics:

Applied Algebraic Combinatorics

## Grades and Expectations

Grades will be based on- homework (worth 30%),
- class participation (worth 30%),
- final presentation (oral and written) (worth 40%, half oral and half written).

Like basketball and violin, math is learned by doing not by watching. You will do math in familiar ways (problem sets, class work), semi-familiar ways (oral and written presentations, reading and discussing articles), and possibly new ways (asking and trying to answer new mathematical questions).

Math is also a creative endeavor: this class is a place to explore the boundaries of your knowledge and your abilities, to stretch yourself and your imagination. I do not expect you to complete every problem set or to solve every problem "perfectly"; I like to see how you think. Many students will receive an A with far less than perfect scores. If you are concerned with how your problem sets translate into a final letter grade for the course, please ask me.

## Homework

For the first part of the semester, there will generally be two problem sets due each week, usually on Tuesday and Friday. Due dates are noted on the assignments and on the syllabus. The **two** lowest homework scores will be dropped. Collaboration is encouraged, but each student is responsible for

- writing her own solutions,
- knowing how to solve the problems, and
**listing all collaborators or other resources used**.

- Late homework is a bad idea. If you're behind, it's hard for you to learn new stuff and to participate in class.
- Homework that is unreadable may not be graded.

- Problems for the first week (January 27-31).
- Problems for the second week (February 3-7).
- Problems for the third week (February 10-14).
- Problems for the fourth week (February 17-21).
- Problems for the fifth week (February 24-28).

## Class participation

Class participation is critical: I expect that you'll do your part to keep the energy level of the class high. I also expect that you attend class every day; if illness or another serious problem prevents you from coming, let me know.

Class participation has several components:

**In-class group work**: We often solve problems in class in small groups. I'm especially impressed by people who can work well in many different groups.**Workshop presentations:**Before break, small groups will work on somewhat open-ended problems. Each group will give a presentation and lead a discussion on its results and ongoing questions.**Seminar discussion:**As a class, we will choose various articles to discuss in the weeks after break. These articles will be useful background material for final presentations. Each student will lead the discussion on one article. If you're not leading discussion, you're expected to participate actively in the discussion.**Final presentation:**I encourage you to work in groups for the final presentation. Even if you do not, you will work with other people to refine and develop your ideas, to work through your questions, to test your presentation, and so on.

## Final presentations

Being able to give a clear and compelling presentation is a critical and transferable skill you will bring out of college to the rest of your life. We will develop and hone this skill in this class. In the last few weeks of class, every student will give a 40-minute in-class presentation. Students can pick from a list of topics or choose a topic of their own (with instructor permission). Students may cooperate to explore one topic in a longer, group presentation.

The presentation will be a large part of your work for the semester. Parts of it will be due throughout the fall. The syllabus gives dates for choosing the topic, writing an outline, discussing a draft of your presentation with me, and giving a practice presentation for a classmate.

You know the importance of writing, both as an essential capability in itself and as a tool for honing your thoughts. We will gain one other tool: LaTeX, the preeminent word-processing software for mathematical expression. Anybody using mathematics professionally needs to know at least basic LaTeX. LaTeX is a document markup language, like HTML, so you will also be learning one of a family of useful programming languages.

At the end of reading period, a LaTeXed write-up of your presentation, together with any handouts and suggested problems, will be due. Diagrams can be drawn freehand, unless you have (or wish to gain) particular expertise. You can find a LaTeX template as well as a basic how-to on the course Moodle page.