Math 287, Spring 2014: Information and Policies


M. Randall Holmes


We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12 PM to 1:15 PM, in MB 124. The final examination period for this class will be in the same room on Tuesday May 13 12-2 pm. Attendance will be required on that day at that time, but we will not be having an exam. Take note of the following dates.

Office and Hours:

Office: Math/Geology 240A. Office hours to be announced. I have logic seminar at 2 PM Tuesdays, so I won't be in my office then. Do note my Open Office Policy below.

Please note further that I am introducing a scheme of optional credit for visits to my office hours. It will be possible to earn credit applied toward your homework grade by attending my office hours (at any time, not just the official times). I will have a rubric for awarding such credit (which I do not intend to make public at this time, it will be a work in progress as I am doing this for the first time); in general terms, you are more likely to get credit if you show up with a definite question (or a definite administrative purpose, this counts too) and you have done some work on it.


My office telephone number is 6-3011 (426-3011 from off-campus). My home telephone number is 345-2899: students are welcome to call me but please no calls after 8:30 pm any day or between 6 pm Friday and noon Sunday.

Electronic Information:

WWW (web page):

 class announcements page for this class: here

Sam Coskey's page for his past M287 classes: here

This is the CID course for Mathematics in the new Foundations Program. Look here to find out about CID courses.

I read my e-mail constantly (during the working week) and respond promptly.

This electronic version of this syllabus is the official syllabus (no paper copies will be made), is subject to change, and any changes will be posted here.

Electronic announcements for this class (and announcements to both classes) will appear in a couple of different ways.  Most announcements and documents you need will appear on the class announcements page accessible from my main page near the link to this syllabus (or from the link just above).  Occasionally I may send e-mail to the entire class.  Make sure either that you read your Boise State e-mail regularly or forward your Boise State e-mail to an account you do read regularly.

Title of Course:

Math 287: Communication in the Mathematical Sciences. This is section 001.


The textbook for this class is Laboratories in Mathematical Experimentation, a bridge to higher mathematics, by Cobb and others (it says Mount Holyoke College on the cover rather than an authors name). It appears that the book is only available used on Amazon and other online sellers; please order the book as soon as possible. The correct ISBN is 0-387-94922-4


It is very important to look at the class schedule for the add deadline and drop deadline. In particular, attempts to drop after the deadline of March 3 will almost certainly fail.

Homework and Projects:

This is a brand new course which only one member of the department (not me!) has taught, just twice. Everything about it is a work in progress.

There will be no examinations in this class (as such). There will be a series of projects (which I will be working out as we go), and probably some minor homework assignments as well. I am hoping to arrange things so that a lot of class time will be spent working live on projects. Many if not all projects will involve working with a computer; if you have a laptop computer, plan on bringing it to class regularly. Projects will often if not always be collaborative; be aware that while you may work and be graded as part of a group on many assignments, you will not be in the same group on every assignment (I will define groups to avoid this). Grading for collaborative projects may involve components which you carry out and are graded on as an individual.

How Your Course Grade Will Be Computed:

Your grade will be an average of grades on your major projects and a cumulative average of minor homework assignments (which may be modified by your optional office hour credit). There will also be a substantial component of the homework grade based on attendance.

90 or above is an A; 80 or above is a B; 70 or above is a C; 60 or above is a D; lower grades are F (after any scaling).

I do not assign +/- grades except under special circumstances. I will never award a grade of A+ or C- for any reason whatsoever. I may award the other +/- grades under special circumstances, but no score earns a +/- grade: there will always be some other consideration

Eligibility for this Class:

No exceptions will be made. If the computer tells me that you don't meet prerequisite or placement exam standards for this course, I will free your seat for someone who does meet them.


If you do not attend this class on one of the first two days, I will exercise my option to have you administratively withdrawn.

Attendance is required in this class. A small number of absences (I think three but this is subject to change) will be forgiven. You will receive a grade determined by attendance (with steep penalties for any absences above the forgiven number) as a significant portion of your homework grade.

Open Office Policy:

My office hours for these classes are to be announced. I will almost always be in my office at the officially scheduled times, and I will try to warn you when I will not be. If I am in my office during a posted office hour, I am available to help you.

Don't assume that these are the only times when you can get help! I am never offended by a student asking me for help if I am in the office (though I may help only briefly if I am very busy).   If the door to my office is closed, knock!!! If I don't answer, check for post-it notes that say where I am... Information about times of availability will be posted on my main web page.

Late Work and Makeups:

There will be penalties applied for turning in major projects late. Late minor homework assignments will not be marked, although you may get a tiny bit of administrative credit for turning them in.

Academic Honesty:

You know what academic honesty is. Practice it. Don't claim credit for something done by someone else (whether one of your colleagues in this class or someone who published a book, journal article or web page). You will write reports and make oral presentations in this class: they should include bibliographies of sources. They should also include where appropriate acknowledgement of help from other members of the class.

Courtesy Issues:

Cellular phones must be turned off during class. If there is a good reason that you must await a phone call during class, please inform me in advance and minimize the disruption by sitting near an exit. Cell phones (as well as PDA's such as Palm Pilots and Pocket PC's) must be turned off and completely out of sight (no exceptions whatsoever) during an exam.

You do not need to contact me if you are missing class (though you may want to if you have a reasonable excuse and need to circumvent attendance grade penalties) or if you need to arrive late or leave early; but I do need you to enter or leave the class quietly in either case.


The word ``yesterday'' is defined to mean the previous class session; the word ``tomorrow'' is defined to mean the next class session, unless I specifically say otherwise :-)