Syllabus: Math 155 Spring 2014

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Elementary Mathematical Models (Math 155)

Instructor: Sean Carver, Ph.D., Professorial Lecturer, American University.


  • 107 Gray Hall
  • office phone: 202-885-6629

Learning Outcomes: Copied from Chris Mitchell's 2013 syllabus:

My goal is that the students will (1) develop a general understanding of how mathematical models are developed and used, (2) learn specific methods for one modeling methodology (difference equations), (3) experience the progression from simpler to more complex models, (4) observe how traditional mathematical operations and functions arise out of the models we study, (5) learn the organizational strategy of grouping functions into families defined in terms of parameters, and (6) learn the core concepts of chaos as a significant limitation on the discrete mathematical modeling methodology.

What I expect that students will take away from the course of most value to them is greater confidence vis-a-vis mathematics.

Confidence with Mathematics: Increased confidence in mathematics will help you in other areas, no matter what you choose to do. Developing confidence requires challenging yourself, and working hard to meet your challenges. I will help you do that.

Important Dates:

  • Midterm 1: Friday, February 14
  • Spring Break: March 9–16
  • Midterm 2: Friday, March 21
  • Final Exam: Tuesday May 6

Homework: Due most Wednesdays either during class or in my mailbox in Gray Hall by close of business (5 pm).

Late Homework Policy: Accepted up to 24 hours late for 20% penalty. Not accepted after that. Exceptions will be made if arranged before the due date and if you have a compelling reason.

Student responsibility vis-a-via attendance and homework: The following link was shared by Jeff Adler, who taught this class in the past:

Grading: I will make an attempt to grade homework and exams in a way that is consistent, to the extent possible, with the way other professors have graded this class, both this term and in the past.

Tentative grading scheme:

Homework 20%
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Final 20%
Attendance and Participation 20%

Academic Integrity: To the extent that grades are based on a curve, cheating to get a better grade on an assignment or exam can result in lowering the grades of some of your classmates. This is not acceptable and cheating will not be tolerated. Cheating will be handled as required by American University.

What is considered cheating?

  • Cheating is copying work from another source without giving attribution.
  • Cheating is copying problem(s) from a classmate.
  • It is OK to work with other students on homework as long as you write up the solutions yourself and your solutions reflect your own understanding of the problems.
  • When inappropriate copying between students is caught, both parties are culpable.
  • When in doubt disclose what you have done. You may not get full credit but you won't be charged for academic misconduct.

Office Hours: Tentatively scheduled

  • Tuesday 2:40-3:40
  • Tuesday 5:30-6:30
  • Wednesday 2:40-3:40
  • Wednesday 5:30-6:30
  • Friday 2:40-3:40
  • Friday 5:30-6:30

Tutoring through MATH/STAT tutoring center:

  • Sunday, 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Monday - Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.