matthias beck

some of matt's pictures

MATH 420/720


Spring 2011

Lecture: MWF 12:10-1:00 TH 326
Prerequisites: Math 301 and [Math 310 or Math 325 or Math 330], or consent of the instructor
Instructor: Dr. Matthias Beck
Office: Thornton Hall 933
Office hours: Mondays 1-2 pm, Wednesdays 10-11 am & by appointment

Math 420/720 gives an introduction to fundamental combinatorial objects, their uses in other fields of mathematics and its applications, and their analysis. We will learn how to use combinatorial structures to represent mathematical and applied questions and will become comfortable with the combinatorial tools commonly used to analyze such structures. Given a hypothetical combinatorial object that must satisfy certain properties, we will learn how to prove the existence or non-existence of the object, compute the number of such objects, and understand their underlying structure.

Texts. We will cover some of Chapter 1 and most of Chapter 2 of Combinatorics and Graph Theory by John Harris, Jeffrey Hirst, and Michael Mossinghoff (if you open this link on campus or through the SFSU library, you can download a free pdf copy or order a cheap hard copy through Springer). There are several books that can be used as additional sources; I recommend doing a library search on books that have the word "combinatorics" in their title.

Reading Assignments. At the end of each lecture, I will give a reading assignment from the Harris-Hirst-Mossinghoff book. I will expect that you will have read and thought about the assigned material by the next lecture.

Homework. I will assign homework problems as we go through the material. All assignments in a given week are due at 12pm on the following Wednesday (I'd prefer you leave the papers in my mailbox, but you can also give them to me before the beginning of the Wednesday class). I will generally not accept homework submissions through email. Graduate students (i.e., those enrolled in Math 720) will be assigned extra problems. I will not grade homework papers that are sloppily written. You will receive an extra 10% for a homework set that is TeXed. You're also welcome to experiment with other math typesetting programs.

Projects. Every student enrolled in Math 720 is required to do a class project; those enrolled in Math 420 can do a project in lieu of the final exam. Each project group will consist of two students from the class, and each topic should be something combinatorial that is not discussed in the lectures. Please see me for suggestions or to check about your ideas. By March 1, you are required to submit an extended outline of your project, including basic definitions and a bibliography. Your project report is due on May 1, and we will have presentations spread out through May.

Grading System.

Math 420 Math 720
Homework 50% 40%
Midterm (March 23) 25% 20%
Project 25% 20%
Final Exam (May 18, 10:45-1:15) 20%

I want to ensure that each of you accomplishes the goals of this course as comfortably and successfully as possible. At any time you feel overwhelmed or lost, please come and talk with me.

The math. The way to learn math is through doing math. It is vital and expected that you attend every lecture. You will get a good feel for the math from there, but it is even more crucial that you do the homework. Working in groups is not only allowed but strongly recommended. The iLearn system allows you to send emails to anybody in your class. While I strongly encourage you to work together, the solutions and writing projects you hand in have to be your own. Our iLearn site also features a wiki which we could use to keep track of the basic development of our class.

Fine print.
BS rule
SFSU academic calender
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
CR/NCR grading
Incomplete grades
Late and retroactive withdrawals
Students with disabilities
Religious holidays

This syllabus is subject to change. All assignments, as well as other announcements on tests, policies, etc., are given in class. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to find out what's going on. I will try to keep this course web page as updated as possible, however, the most recent information will always be given in class. Always ask lots of questions in class; my courses are interactive. You are always encouraged to see me in my office.

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