Combinatorics Fall 2011
Home Page
Poster Day
Combinatorics – Fall 2011
Course: Math 636, Fall 2011.
Instructor: Christopher Hanusa -- email -- Office Kiely Hall 409
Meeting Times: Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30-5:45 in RA 205.
Course Web Site:
Course Discussion Board: Blackboard

Textbook: Combinatorics: A Guided Tour, by David R. Mazur (ISBN 9780883857625) Search multiple booksellers here
Amazon offers to students a free one-year subscription to "Amazon Prime", which allows you to receive books sold directly from Amazon within two business days for free! Sign up here. Make sure your order says "Eligible for Amazon Prime / Free Super Saver Shipping". Our book is here
This class covers: Various sections of the book, certainly chapters 1-4 and chapter 5 and/or 7.

Homework Policy:
      DO IT! There will be two types of homework in this class, due weekly. There will be written homework assignments that you turn in and discussion homework assignments that will be presented at the board. Each homework will be posted on the course web page the week beforehand. The course schedule details the schedule of homework assignments.

Written Homeworks:
      The written homeworks contribute towards your homework grade. They will consist (normally) of five questions. I expect all answers to be fully justified, unless otherwise noted. Each of the problems will be graded on a scale from 0-4, as follows:
 4  A well-written solution with no errors.
 3  A well-written solution with slight errors.
 2  A good partial solution.
 1  A very partial solution or a good start.
 0  No work, a weak start, or an unsupported answer
I require you to follow some relatively strict guidelines for homework submission. It is especially important that your homework be legible and clearly presented, or I may not grade it.
      It is important to learn how to express yourself in the language of mathematics. In the homework, you should show your work and explain how you did the problem. This is the difference between an Answer and a Solution. It should be obvious to the person reading the homework how you went about doing the problem. This will often involve writing out explanations for your work in words. Imagine that you need an example to help refresh your memory for another class in six months!
      A guiding principle that I suggest you follow is "Be precise and concise." That is, you should take great care to write your solutions so that you leave no ambiguity to what you mean and that you write no more than is necessary.

Late Written Homework:
      I understand that outside factors may affect your ability to turn in your homework on time. During the semester you will be allowed five total grace days. If a homework is due on Wednesday and you turn it in on Friday, this counts as two of your five grace days. Once you have zero grace days, I will not accept late homework. If you are not planning to be in class, let me know and get it to me beforehand. This is your responsibility. I can accept clearly scanned homework by email; I may ask you to bring in the original copy to class on a later date.

Discussion Homeworks and the Discussion Board:
      Discussion homeworks will not be turned in; however, they should be approached with as much detail as their written counterparts since they will be part of in-class presentations and discussions. Presentations need not be complete solutions, but you must make some effort to explain what you know. I will call on students randomly. If you are not prepared when called upon, you will be called upon the in the following discussion period. If you do not present the second time, it will be counted against you.

Project and Poster Session:
      Working alone or in a group of two, you will research a combinatorial question and present your findings through a poster in a class poster session the last week of class. More information is available here.

Study Groups:
      An important component of your learning in this class is through study groups. Study groups allow you to learn the intricacies of the material; discussion of problems often lead to better understanding and new and more efficient ways to solve the problems. One of the best ways to learn something is to explain it to someone else; misunderstandings that you never knew you had will appear under someone else's questioning! In addition, seeing that others also struggle with the material helps to put your own level of understanding in a better perspective and will hopefully reduce some of your anxiety. If you can not find a study group, e-mail me or the course e-mail list.
      Most importantly, I assume that you will be working in groups when I make up the homework assignments. At the beginning the problems will seem easy enough to plug and chug on your own, but as the quarter progresses the questions become quite complex indeed. When a group works on a problem, everyone can participate. But when you write up the answers to the problems, write it up in your own way. I will take off points from all parties if multiple solutions are the same. Be sure to include an acknowledgment to your groupmates on your homework.

      There will two exams during the semester. They will be a class period in length and no calculators or study aides are allowed (or are necessary). There will be no make-up exam except in the case of a documented emergency. In the event of an unavoidable conflict with the midterm (an athletic meet, wedding, funeral, etc...), you must notify me at least one week before the date of the exam so that we can arrange for you to take the exam BEFORE the actual exam date.

Grading Scheme:
      Your grade will be based on written homework, class participation including homework presentations, your course project, and the two exams. Each component of your grade is calculated independently; then all pieces are combined using the following weighted average.

  • Class Participation: 10%
  • Written Homework: 25%
  • Project, including poster and presentation: 15%
  • Exam 1: 25%
  • Exam 2: 25%

Office Hours:
      Prof. Chris is happy to help you with your homework and other class-related questions during office hours, which will generally be right before or after class. Prof. Chris will be in his office, Kiely 409, starting at 3:15pm on class days. You are welcome to stop by my office or make an appointment to meet with me at any time.

      DON'T DO IT!   Both receiving and supplying the answers on an exam is cheating. Copying homework solutions is considered cheating. I take cheating very seriously. If you cheat, you will receive a zero for the homework/exam and I will report you to the academic integrity committee in the Office of Student Affairs. If you cheat twice, you will receive a zero for the class.

Please do realize that working together on homework as described above is not cheating.
Back to the Combinatorics Home Page
Christopher HanusaQueens CollegeMathematics Department.