Math 251W - Section 1 - Foundations of Advanced Mathematics

Spring '12 - Prof. Mark Janeba

MWF 9:10 - 10:10 a.m.
Ford 222
Office: Ford Hall 216
E-mail: mjaneba<at>
Phone/Voice Mail: (503) 370-6123

Text: Reasoning and Writing, Foundations of Mathematics, Mark Janeba.

Course Goals:

The successful student in this course will, at the end of the semester:
  1. Be able to recognize and analyze standard methods of argument and proof construction in written material.
  2. Be able to apply these standard methods to construct accurate, clear, and precise mathematical arguments and proofs, and be able to revise and improve those proofs.
  3. Understand basic set theory, and be able to apply that understanding in analyzing and writing proofs.
  4. Become proficient at a basic level in the use of modern typesetting software (i.e. LaTeX), as evidenced by its use in meeting goals 2 and 3.
  5. Begin to gain exposure to the broader world of mathematics through participation in the Mathematics Department Colloquia.


Approximate weighting scheme:
Best three of five (appx) quizzes at 25 points each:
appx 75 points
Two or three one-hour exams at 100 points each:
200-300 points
Formal papers and other written assignments
appx 100 points
Journaling assignment
appx  75 points
Formally written homework, with revision
 appx 150 points
Comprehensive Final exam:
200 points
 25 points
 appx 825-925 points
For each graded piece of work, I will post cutoff scores for grades of A-, B-, C, C-, and D. At the end of the term, if your point total is more than the total of the A- cutoffs, your grade will be an A- or better, and so on. Cutoffs will never be higher than this:
A- B- C C- D
90% 80% 70% 67% 60%
... but they are often lower.
Exam makeup policy: Quiz or midterm make-ups or early quizzes or exams are given only for verifiable illness or for university-sanctioned intercollegiate activities. For collegiate activities, you must see me before you leave to arrange a makeup time. In any case, you must contact me in advance except in emergencies.

The final exam time is Monday, May 7, 8-11 a.m., as set by the University; early finals will not be given.  Really.  I mean it.  Please make travel plans accordingly.  If someone else will be making your travel plans, it would be wise to notify them immediately of your committments. 

Papers and other written assignments

Several papers and other writing exercises of varying sizes will be assigned throughout the course. Drafts may sometimes be collected, and papers and more complex homework will be rewritten for credit often. Keep in mind that mathematical writing can be very dense, in that a few words and symbols can carry a great deal of information. The requirements for logic and the standards of accuracy and precision likely will be higher than in other courses of students' experience. Sometimes the careful crafting of one mathematical paragraph will take longer than writing several pages of nonmathematical prose. When we get to particularly complex writing assignments, we will revise several times.

Quizzes and Participation

Quizzes are 15 to 25 minutes long, with problems that resemble homework. We will usually have a quiz in any week without an exam or a major paper due. 

Please come to class prepared to discuss the previous night's homework. To gauge students' preparation, there will be a few pop quizzes during the term pertaining to the reading assignments.

Attendance is figured into your grade as follows: Each student will start with 25 points for attendance. There is no deduction for the first 3 absences.  Two points are deducted for the 4th and 5th absences, and three points for the 6th absence and each subsequent absence. While it is awkward to include attendance in the class grade, my experience shows that it is a helpful incentive for many students. I will do my best to make attendance rewarding, both in the intellectual sense and in participation points.


Homework is assigned daily and generally collected on Fridays.  On the more complex homework assignments, rewrites will be encouraged.  Likewise, you are highly encouraged to come to the Math Hearth alone or in groups when I'm around for while-you-work advice.  Other faculty are able to help you too!  I can help and comment on homework you have already started, you will be able to brainstorm with any other classmates who are in attendance, and you will be able to work on homework you have not yet finished, with help close at hand.

Departmental Colloquium requirement

As part of this course, students are required to (politely!) attend at least two departmental colloquia.  Colloquia are one-hour talks, usually given by visiting speakers, on topics of mathematical interest.  Refreshments are provided!  Colloquia are typically scheduled at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoons, roughly every two weeks.  They are announced via the math-news listserv, onto which all students enrolled in this course are added, and via postings in the math hearth area.  If students cannot meet the two-colloquia requirement, alternative writing assignment(s) will be provided, each counted in place of one colloquium, but only if requested before April 18.  In short, plan ahead.  Students meeting only half of the colloquium requirement will be assessed a fifteen (15) point penalty; students meeting none of the requirement will be assessed a thirty (30) point penalty.

Accommodations for students with disabilities:

Accomodations required by students with disabilities will be provided upon reasonable advance notice and verification of requirement/eligibility from the Office of Disability Services (Bishop Wellness Center).  If you forsee needing an accomodation, it is probably best to inquire at the Office of Disability Services at the start of the semester.

Policy on in-class distractions and cell phones:

It is important to respect the concentration and attention of each student in the class.  Class time is limited, precious, and the tuition is quite expensive per minute.  Arriving late for class is severely frowned upon, and will be counted as an absence.  Electronic devices, including computers and cell phones, and anything else not expressly required for the course must be turned off during class time.  Exceptions include calculators, and special-needs aids such as lecture-recording devices.  If your cell phone rings during regular class time, you will be required to bring cookies for the entire class at the next class meeting.  During exams and quizzes, the penalty is more specific: two points for each ring, or one point per second of audible sound, whichever is greater.  Be aware that many "smart phones" have alarm features that can still sound when the phone is nominally "off."  Such alarms are still subect to the penalties above.  Please help me hold distractions for your fellow students to an absolute minimum.

Academic Honesty Expectations

All exams and quizzes are to be taken with books and notes closed (except as noted on the exam paper), completely on your own. Anything you can electronically store on your calculator is acceptable at all times, but written notes are prohibited.  Palmtop or laptop computers will not be allowed in exams.

On papers: The documentation requirements for each paper will be announced.  In general, plagiarism is any work copied or paraphrased from another source without proper written acknowledgement.  Plagiarism is not expected and will not be tolerated.  Violations will result in a failing grade for the assignment (at least).

On homework:  While I encourage you to discuss methods of solution to homework problems, copied homework will result in a failing grade for the assignment for both copies of the work.  You should not see (nor have dictated to you) another student's final draft of a homework problem until after it has been graded and returned.  On homeworks for which rewrites are accepted, you should not see another's final draft until after your last rewrite of that assignment has been submitted.

In keeping with college policy, cheating or plagiarism will be reported to the dean (see student handbook). Systematic or organized cheating on exams will result in course failure.  Submission of a paper written by someone other than the submitting student will also be cause for failure in the course.

If you are uncertain about some aspect of this policy, it is your responsibility to get clarification from the instructor. 

Last Modified January 16, 2012.
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