General Information

Title: MA2000: Introduction to Formal Mathematics
Time: TR 9:30--10:45
Location: Hyde 317

Course Information and Policies


Regular admission to Plymouth State University.

Course description

Focuses on understanding and appropriate use of formal mathematical language. Intended for mathematics majors and students interested in the study of mathematics.


There is no textbook for this course. Instead, we will rely on notes, handouts, and class discussion.


The primary objective of this course is to introduce new mathematics majors to the formal language of mathematics. In addition, we will develop problem-solving skills by tackling problems from a variety of contexts. Moreover, we will address questions such as:

Lastly, the purpose of any mathematics class is to challenge and train the mind. Learning mathematics enhances critical thinking and problem solving skills.


Homework will usually be assigned every lecture day and will usually be due at the beginning of the next lecture day. I will always tell you when a given homework assignment is due (so, there should never be any confusion). Your homework will always be graded for completion and usually some portion of your work will be graded for correctness. You are allowed and encouraged to work together on homework. However, each student is expected to turn in their own work. Each assignment will be worth 5-10 points depending on the level of difficulty and/or amount of time required to complete an assignment (generally, more time consuming homework will be worth more). There will be approximately 20-25 homework assignments. Three (possibly more) of your lowest homework scores will be dropped. You are allowed to turn in up to three homework assignments late with no questions asked. Unless you have made arrangements in advance with me, homework turned in after class will be considered late. Occasionally, you may be required to submit your homework via Moodle or Sage. Your overall homework grade will be worth 25% of your final grade. You can find the list of homework assignments here. I reserve the right to modify the homework assignments as I see necessary.


There will be 2 midterm exams, which are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 4 and Tuesday, November 15. Each midterm exam will be worth 20% of your overall grade. There will also be a cumulative final exam, which will be on Tuesday, December 13 at 8:00--10:30AM. The final exam is also worth 20% of your overall grade. All of the exams are likely to be a mix of in-class and take-home portions. Make-up exams will only be given under extreme circumstances, as judged by me. In general, it will be best to communicate conflicts ahead of time.

Participation and Presentations

Active participation during class is expected. Students will be asked to discuss ideas and present their work at the board. When a student is presenting, the other students in the audience are expected to be attentive, engaged, and be asking questions. Your overall participation in the class will be worth 15% of your overall grade and attendance will likely play a role in computing your grade in this category.

(Adopted from Chapter Zero Instructor Resource Manual) Though the atmosphere in this class should be informal and friendly, what we do in the class is serious business. In particular, the presentations made by students are to be taken very seriously since they spearhead the work of the class. Here are some of my expectations:

If you have an idea about a solution/proof that you'd like to present, don't be worried if you think your solution/proof is incorrect or incomplete. You will be rewarded for being courageous and sharing your creative ideas! Yet, you should not come to the board to present unless you have spent time thinking about the problem and have something meaningful to contribute. I will always ask for volunteers to present, but when no volunteers come forward, I will call on someone.

Basis for Evaluation

Your final grade will be determined by the scores of your homework, participation/presentations, and exams.

Category Weight Notes
Homework 25% each homework assignment worth 5-10 points
Exam 1 20% Tuesday, October 4
Exam 2 20% Tuesday, November 15
Participation and Presentations 15% I expect each student to present material a few times during the semester
Final Exam 20% Tuesday, December 13 at 8:00--10:30AM

Additional Information

Getting Help

There are many resources available to get help. First, I recommend that you work on homework in groups as much as possible, and to come see me whenever necessary. Also, you are strongly encouraged to ask questions in the course forum on our Moodle page, as I will post comments there for all to benefit from. I am always happy to help you. If my office hours don't work for you, then we can probably find another time to meet. It is your responsibility to be aware of how well you understand the material. Don't wait until it is too late if you need help. Ask questions! Lastly, you can always .

To effectively post to the course forum, you will need to learn the basics of LaTeX, the standard language for typesetting in the mathematics community. See the Quick LaTeX guide for help with $\LaTeX$. If you need additional help with $\LaTeX$, post a question in the course forum.

Math Activity Center

You can also visit the Math Activity Center, which is located in Hyde 351. This student-run organization provides peer tutoring services for most 1000 and 2000 level math courses and some 3000 level courses. Tutors are typically math majors interested in teaching math and practicing their instructional skills. You can drop in anytime during open hours.

Student Handbook

The PSU Student Handbook addresses policies pertaining to students with disabilities, religious observation, honor code, general conduct, etc. The Handbook can be found here.

ACT for Growth

All teacher education majors are subject to the Areas of Concern/Targets for Growth policy, which is located here.

ADA Statement

Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you must register with the PASS office in Lamson Library (535-2270). If you have a Letter of Academic Accommodation for this course from the PASS office, please provide the instructor with that information privately so that the accommodations can be reviewed.

Closing Remarks

When does the learning happen? It might happen in class, but most likely it happens when you sit down to do your homework. Most of you can follow what happens on the board in class, but the question is, can you do it on your own? To learn best, you must struggle with mathematics on your own. It is supposed to be difficult. However, if you are struggling too much, then there are resources available for you. I am always happy to help you. If my office hours don't work for you, then we can probably find another time to meet. You can also get help from each other. Get a study buddy! Help each other learn. Go the Math Activity Center. It is your responsibility to be aware of how well you understand the material. Don't wait until it is too late if you need help. Ask questions!