Math 109

Math 109, Winter 2010

Lecture: 9:30 - 10:45, Tuesday and Thursday in 380-381U
Text: Groups and Symmetry, by M. A. Armstrong
Office Hours: 4:00 - 5:30, Tuesday and Thursday in 380-382E,
    or by appointment


Course Assistant: Tracy Nance
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 4:00 - 5:30
    Problem Sets

Welcome to Math 109!

Math 109 offers an introduction to group theory, and no previous experience with abstract algebra or proofs is required. In addition to studying many examples of groups, we'll discuss properties of groups and how to form new groups from existing ones. This class will also emphasize good mathematical writing, with lots of opportunities to practice! My office hours are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 to 5:30, but you're always welcome to arrange an appointment with me at another time. Email is generally the best way to reach me, and I try to respond to weekday emails within 24 hours.

Written work

There will be weekly problem sets assigned for Math 109, and the assignments can be found here. Problem sets will be due each Wednesday, and the logistics for turning them in will be posted soon. No late assignments will be accepted, but I'll drop your lowest homework grade at the end of the quarter. Please staple your assignment before you turn it in!

The best way to learn the material in the course is to put time and effort into the problem sets. You're encouraged to work in groups, but each student must write up his or her own solutions. Also, if you work with other people, you should acknowledge your collaborators on your assignment. Your solutions will be graded on exposition as well as logical correctness, so it's a good idea to view writing up your solution as a separate process from constructing your argument.

In addition to learning group theory, developing good mathematical writing is one of the major goals for Math 109. You'll get practice and feedback on your exposition throughout the quarter, and the writing project will give you an opportunity to tackle a more substantial piece of mathematical composition. The topic for the project is the symmetry groups of the Platonic solids, which is discussed in Chapter 8 of Armstrong. The Project Details page gives specifics on the assignment and deadlines. You will be asked to submit a draft to a classmate for editing, and your final grade will also reflect the quality of the feedback you give your classmates. This assignment will also provide an opportunity to learn to use the mathematical typesetting program LaTeX, and your final paper must be typed. This class satisfies the Writing in the Major (WIM) requirement.


We'll have one midterm exam (February 2) and one final exam in the course. The final exam will be held in Building 380, Room 380W from 12:15 to 3:15 on Monday, March 15. I will have extra office hours (with donuts!) on the Saturday morning before the exam, details to follow.
You can find a practice midterm
here. The practice final is now available.


Your course grade will be based on the homework assignments, midterm exam, writing project, and final exam. Thoughtful participation in class can improve your grade if it's on the border, and improvement over the course of the quarter is also a plus.

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Revised on February 28th, 2009