# M362K: PROBABILITY I, Fall 03

Please read the information below carefully and refer to this handout whenever you have questions about class policies.

Unique Number: 57475

Instructor: Prof. M. Smith

Contact information:
• Office: RLM 10.136
• Phone: 471-6142
• Message: 471-7711
• Email: mks@math.utexas.edu

Class Web Site: http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks/362K03/362K03index.html Handouts and assignments will be posted at this web site. They may be in html, pdf, or Word format, depending on what works best for the particular item.

Office Hours: Posted on home page http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks (Other times may be possible by appointment if you cannot make my regular office hours. However, I am not available MWF before 1.)

Textbook: Ross, A First Course in Probability, sixth edition (2002). We will cover most of Chapters 1 - 8, and perhaps small portions of Chapters 9 and 10.

Optional Additional Resources: Some students like to consult a second textbook. If you wish to do this, here are two suggestions:
Grinstead and Snell, Introduction to Probability, available  in PDF format from http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/books_articles/probability_book/book.html
Ghahramani, Fundamentals of Probability, Prentice Hall.

Prerequisite: M 408D or 408L (or equivalent) with grade of C or better. This prerequisite will be used! See the handout Some Things You May Need From Calculus for more details.
** Although M 325K (Discrete Mathematics) is not a prerequisite for this course, many students have said in the past that it is helpful to take M 325K (or CS 336, which is a similar course, or at least PHL 313K) before, or at least along with, M 362K. If you have not had M 325K or CS 336, you may need to spend extra time in Chapters 1 and 2 of the textbook. If you would like to consult an extra reference for help in these sections, I suggest Epp, Discrete Mathematics with Applications, second edition, Brooks/Cole, 1995. Sections 6.1 - 6.5 relate to Chapter 1 of Ross; pp. 231 - 237, 244 - 255, and 258 - 263 are relevant to Chapter 2 of Ross.

Technology Use
: You will be expected to use the Web and email as needed. I may also once or twice give you an assignment involving a computer simulation, which could be done with any number of software packages, including Excel. If you do not have computer access, please see me about obtaining a computer account.

Course Outline: We will not follow the order of the textbook exactly. Here is a rough outline of how we will proceed:
1. Introduction to random variables and probability. (Notes and part of Chapter 2)
2. Discrete probability and Combinatorics (Chapter 2, incorporating parts of Chapter 1 as they are needed.)
3. Conditional Probability, Bayes' Theorem, and Independent Events (Chapter 3, with occasional supplementation.)
4. Random Variables (Sections 4.1 - 4.2 along with 5.1, part of 5.3 and possibly 4.9)
5. Expected Value and Variance (Sections 4.4, 4.5, 5.2 and 5.3 and perhaps some supplementation)
6. Special random variables and the Central Limit Theorem (Sections 4.6, 4.7, 4.7.1, 4.8.1, 5.4, 5.4.1, 5.5 and part of  8.3, plus some supplementation)
7. Functions of random variables, joint and conditional distributions, and sums of independent random variables (Sections 5.7, 6.1 - 6.5)
8. Properties of sums of random variables (Sections 7.1, 7.2, 7.3)
9. Limit Theorems (Sections 8.1 - 8.2 and maybe more on 8.3)

Class Format
: You will have an assignment for most class days. Assignments may consist of reading (from the textbook or supplementary notes available on the web), problems to think about for class discussion, and/or problems to be written up and turned in. I will try to keep lecturing to a minimum, so that class time will consist of short lectures, group activities, class discussion, and presentation and discussion of homework problems.

What I Expect of You
: In this class, I expect you to:
• Take responsibility for your own learning.
• Take responsibility for reviewing or learning any prerequisite material that you may be weak on or have forgotten
• Do all assignments on time, including those not to be handed in.
• Review written homework and exams when it is returned, and try to learn from your mistakes or omissions
•  Spend at least six hours (of quality time) per week on this class, in addition class time.
• Stretch yourself mentally.
• Read all reading assignments slowly and carefully, aiming for comprehension and filling in details. Pay attention to any reading guidelines given.
• Attend class. (Get contact information for at least two students in the class whom you can contact for what you missed if you must unavoidably miss class.)
• Pay attention in class and participate in class activities and discussion. (Participate in group activities, volunteer to present problems at the board, volunteer to answer questions posed to the class, ask questions whenever you think they may be of interest to other students in the class.)
• Be considerate of other students in the class. (Turn off cell phones and beepers during class time; listen when other students are talking; give other students a chance to participate in whole-class discussion; wait until you are called on instead of interrupting other students; work cooperatively with other students in group activities; don't read the newspaper in class; don't make disparaging comments about other students; save questions that are not of interest to the whole class until after class or office hours.)
•  Learn technical vocabulary (Pay attention to how words may be used differently in probability than they are in everyday usage or in other areas of mathematics or other technical uses; practice using technical vocabulary appropriately and combining it grammatically with ordinary English; understand the concept behind the word, not just the word.)
•  Pay attention to deciding what technique to use when and why, as well as on carrying out techniques.
• Write up assignments according the Guidelines for Writing Homework; aim to explain your process and reasoning, not just get the right answer.
•  Cultivate the habit of thinking probabilistically about the world around you.
Note: I don't expect perfection; I do expect you to keep trying and to keep improving -- including trying to learning from your mistakes.

Grading: I will do my best to give you the grade that is best warranted by your overall performance in the course. I will take into account whatever relevant information is available, but as a rough guideline will consider the following items in approximately the percentages given below in determining your grade.  (More information about individual items follows.)

Written homework                        20%
Three mid-semester exams            15% each
Final exam                                    25%
Class participation and attitude     10%

I may occasionally give extra credit assignments, which may influence your grade positively if they are of high quality.
I will not "curve" grades (although we may discuss as part of the course what "curving" means). Unless told otherwise, homework and exam grades will be based on the scale
A: 90 - 100%, B: 80 - 89%, C: 70 - 79%, D: 60 - 69%, F: < 60% (without rounding).

Homework:
• For many class days, you will be given reading assignments from the textbook or handouts available on the web. These will usually be accompanied by a study guide pointing out items to pay particular attention to.
• You may also be given questions or problems for class discussion.
• About once a week, you will be asked to hand in written problem solutions. Quality of exposition will be one factor in your homework grade, so be sure to follow the Guidelines for Written Homework in writing up your homework. Written homework is due at the beginning of the class at which it is due. Homework problems will vary in difficulty. Some problems will be "exercises": practice of techniques or reinforcement of vocabulary or concepts studied in class. Others will be real "problems" where you need to apply what you have learned in class and reading, perhaps modifying techniques, combining several ideas, or using concepts in different ways than they have been used in class or the textbook examples. Some might be classifiable as mini-projects.

Late Homework: Written homework is due at the beginning of class on the day it is due. Unless told otherwise, late homework will not be accepted for credit except under very unusual circumstances  (e.g., extended hospitalization).  However, the two lowest homework grades will be dropped in computing the homework average.  This is intended to allow for the normal amount of illness, bad weeks, etc.

Midsemester exams: The first midsemester exam is scheduled for October 3. The dates of the second and third midsemester exams will be announced about two weeks in advance.  I will not give make-ups on midsemester exams.  Instead, if you have an excused absence on an exam, I will count your final exam grade in place of the missing exam grade.  I will not give you an excused absence unless (a) you request one as soon as feasible (before the quiz if that is possible) and (b) the absence was for good cause (oversleeping or having other exams or papers due that day or week are not considered good cause.) Since the class is near classroom capacity, exams will probably be given in another room, which should be announced at least a week in advance.

Final Exam: The final exam will be Saturday, December 13, 9 a.m. - 12 noon (as announced in the course schedule), in whatever room is assigned by the University.

Absences for religious observances: According to Section 51.911 of the Texas Education Code, a student who misses an examination, work assignment, or other project due to the observance of a religious holy day must be given an opportunity to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after the absence, provided that he or she has properly notified each instructor. It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin that the student must notify the each instructor at least fourteen days prior to the classes scheduled on dates he or she will be absent to observe a relisious holy day. For religious holidays that fall within the first two weeks of the semester, the notice should be given on the first da of the semester. Alternate arrangements will be made as soon as possible after notifiation. If you expect to be absent for a religious holy day during this semester, please let me know as soon in advance as possible so that I can try to schedule exams, etc. around these dates.

Class participation: There are three reasons why I consider class participation important:
1. Many employers complain that students have poor communication skills and poor skills in working with others. Class participation is a good way to practice oral (and some written) communication skills and working with others in a task-oriented context.
2. Communicating mathematics, orally as well as in writing, can help you learn mathematical vocabulary, concepts, and reasoning.
3. Regular active involvement in learning promotes thorough and long term learning better than passively attending lecture, doing homework just to get it done, and studying only for exams.
• Attendance. I will not take attendance every day, but will do so occasionally -- sometimes by means of an assignment to be done and handed in during class.
• Paying attention in class. This means listening to other students as well as to me.
• Refraining from disruptive behaviors.
• Participation in class discussion. This doesn't mean that the people who talk the most have the best class participation. Quality counts. Seriously trying counts. Giving others a fair chance to participate also counts.
• Participation in group activities.
• Volunteering to present problems at the board.
Attitude: Ideally, your grade in this (and any other class) should be an indicator of the long term effect of taking the class. This includes long term retention of what you have learned, including vocabulary, conceptual understanding, reasoning, and approaches to problem solving in the field.  Even the most carefully designed exams and assignments allow some room for the student who is working just for the grade to receive a grade that does not indicate long term retention and learning. Therefore it is appropriate to include attitude in your grade. A constructive attitude is reflected by behaviors that are conducive to long-term learning; a counterproductive attitude is reflected by behaviors that focus on the short term and neglect the long-term.
The following behaviors reflect a constructive attitude:
• Doing reading and discussion assignments before class.
• Learning for understanding.
• Regarding problem solutions as something to figure out (rather than expecting just to practice procedures you have been taught.)
• Taking the time to review concepts involved when trying homework problems.
• Being prepared when you ask a question in class or office hours (for example, saying, "In problem ___, I understand ___, but haven't been able to figure out whether ___ or ___,")
• Viewing mathematics as something to be figured out by thinking, rather than as information to be absorbed passively or purely by memorization.
• Responding to a question by saying, "I think it's ___, because ___."
• Persisting when you have difficulty rather than giving up.
• Applying what you learn in this class to the world around you; making connections between this course and other courses.
• Studying regularly, not just for exams.
The following behaviors reflect a counterproductive attitude:
• Focusing on memorizing facts and procedures and not taking the time to understand concepts or figure out problem solutions.
• Answering a question by asking, "Is it ___ ?" (I know that this will involve breaking long-standing habits for some of you, so I won't penalize you if you start off this way but make a serious effort to learn better habits.)
• Asking questions like, "Can you do problem ___?"or "Can you show me how to do problem ___?"rather than telling me what you have tried so far and where you are stuck.
• Giving up on a problem or asking me to show you how to do it when you have only tried it for ten minutes.
• Telling me you think you deserve a better grade on the exam because you really tried -- you stayed up late studying and memorized all the formulas and homework problems.
• Trying to convince me to give you a higher grade because you need it to make the Dean's list (or stay off probation, or keep your scholarship, or …).
• Telling me you deserve a better grade because you feel you understand the material (or because you understand it, but just can't explain it).
• Studying to pass the test rather than to learn.

Policy on Authorized and Unauthorized Collaboration
: Since the University defines collaboration that is not specifically authorized as academic dishonesty, I need to tell you what collaboration is authorized in this class.

The following type of collaboration is authorized:
Working on homework with someone who is at roughly the same stage of progress as you, provided both parties contribute in roughly equal quantity and quality (in particular, thinking) to whatever problem or problem parts they collaborate on. In fact, I encourage this type of collaboration!

The following types of collaboration are not authorized:
1. Working together with one person the doer and one the follower.
2. Any type of copying. In particular, splitting up a problem so that different people do different parts is not authorized collaboration on homework.

Students with Disabilities
: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.