Math 10120 - Finite Mathematics

Spring 2014, Section 01

Instructor: David Galvin


About the course

The course is broadly about chance and strategy.

We begin with probability, the mathematical language that allows us to talk precisely about experiments involving chance. We start with an exposition of some useful and efficient techniques for counting. Next we apply these techniques to the calculation of probabilities or the chances of various events occurring. Finally, we do a little bit of statistics: making sensible inferences about a whole population, when all we have to work with is information about a small sample.

We then move on to optimization, the study of what choices you should make to maximize some payoff (or minimize some payout), when various constraints are placed on the choices that you get to make. We start by examining systems of linear equations and their solutions. Matrices are introduced and we see how these can be used to solve systems of linear equations. We then look at optimization problems, which involve getting the most out of limited resources. Often such problems can be reduced to solving systems of linear equations.

We end with some game theory, or the mathematics of strategy. When you play a game with other players, you want to maximize your return, or minimize your loss, but you have to keep in mind that your opponents also have the same objectives. We use matrices, optimization and probability to find optimal strategies for some games.

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Basic information

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Twice weekly throughout the semester, there will be a (voluntary) two-hour tutorial led by Justin Vogt, (jvogt2 at The times for the tutorials have set as

The tutorials are a great opportunity to ask questions about anything in the course that is causing you trouble.

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Textbook options

You have two choices:

  1. EITHER Finite Mathematics (by H. Rolf) [hybrid edition with Enhanced WebAssign with EBook LOE Printed Access Card], ISBN 9781285084640, published by Cengage learning
  2. OR Enhanced WebAssign Access Card, ISBN 9781285858500, published by Cengage learning.
The first option ($115.50 from bookstore; $90 if purchased direct from the publisher here) gives you a hard-copy of the course textbook, and access to WebAssign, the online homework system that we will be using (see below). The second option ($79 from bookstore; $65 if purchased direct from the publisher here) just gives you access WebAssign, through which you can see an online copy of the book. Note that both options include access to WebAssign --- this is absolutely necessary.

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Weekly schedule

Here is an outline of what sections of Rolf's book we will be covering. It may change slightly as the semester progresses.

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You will be marked out of 600 points, with the specific breakdown as follows:

Your marks on each of these components will be periodically updated on Sakai.

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Late assignments

All homework must be done by the due date to receive credit, and all quizzes and exams must be taken at the assigned times.

I will not consider requests for homework extensions --- the online homework system gives ample time after each section has been covered to complete each assignment, so if you have to be off-campus, I expect that you manage your travel time in such a way that you can complete your assignments in a timely manner, and if you have computer problems I expect you to go to a computer cluster on campus to complete your online homework.

I will not consider requests for make-up quizzes and/or exams, except in the case of legitimate, university-sanctioned conflicts. It is your responsibility to let me know the full details of these conflicts before they cause you to miss an assignment! Excepting university-sanctioned conflicts, it is your responsibility to be in class for all scheduled lectures and mid-semester exams; in particular, you should not plan travel on the morning of any of the Thursdays on which mid-semester exams are scheduled. [Note that this includes Holy Thursday.]

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WebAssign/Homework information

We are using WebAssign for online homework; there will be no paper homework.

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Exam 2:

The second mid-semester exam will be held on

at in The exam will cover Sections 7.1 through 7.6, and 8.1, of the textbook. To help you prepare, here is a that we will go over in class on Wednesday.

To help you prepare for the exam, there will be office hours as follows:

Exam 1: Here is Exam 1, and here are solutions. The average for the exam (before the re-grading of question 15) was 82.4/100. Here are the grade boundaries:

Here is the re-do version of Question 15. If you did not get full marks on this question, you have the option to print out this page, re-do the question, and turn it in to me by Friday, February 14. Here is the solution to this question.

The first mid-semester exam will be held on

at in The exam will cover Sections 6.1 through 6.7 of the textbook. To help you prepare, here is a which has the same format and length as the actual first exam (it is the first exam from last year's iteration of the course). We will go over the practice exam in class on Wednesday. There are two other practice exams you might look at here and here. Also, here are some problems that you might look at from Section 6.7 to help you prepare for possible questions from that section: Rolf Page 503, questions 21, 29, 33.


To help you prepare for the exam, there will be office hours as follows:

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Supplementary material

Here is where I will post any supplementary material for the course, such as slides that I go over in class.

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Honor code: You have all taken the Honor Code pledge, to not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty. For this course, that means that although you may discuss homework assignments with your colleagues, you must complete each WebAssign assignment yourself, all work that you present in quizzes and exams must be your own, and you will adhere to all announced exam policies.

Class conduct: The lecture room should be a place where you should feel free to engage in lively discussion about the course topic; don't be shy! But non course related interruptions should be kept to a minimum. In particular, you should turn off or switch to silent all phones, etc., before the start of class. If for some good reason you need to have your phone on during class, please mention it to me in advance.

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