Probability, M362K, Spring 2004, Unique #55485

  • Classes: MWF 9-10, RLM 6.116
  • Textbook: Larsen and Marx: An Introduction to Probability and its Applications.  (Other sections of M362K use a different text.  Be sure to buy the right one!)  This is an excellent text and has lots and lots of examples. You should read the book prior to class, so we can spend a maximum of class time discussing the points that are confusing or counter-intuitive.
  • Professor: Lorenzo Sadun
  • Office: RLM 9.114
  • Office Hours: MW 10-11, Tu 9-11
  • Phone: 471-7121
  • email: do not send course-related mail to  That's an obsolete account.

    GradingYour term grade will be based on the formula of 20% for each midterm, 20% homework, and  40% final exam, with the lowest 20% dropped.  I average raw scores, not letter grades. In fact, I do not even assign letter grades to individual exams.   Since it's a lot easier to rack up a high average on homework than on exams, it is very much to your advantage to do your homework religiously and turn it in on time!  

    The curve for the final grade will not be set until after the final exam.  I set the cutoffs based on what I believe to be the true meaning of each letter grade.  An "A" is supposed to mean that you have mastered the material to the point that you can use the ideas of this course, even in an unfamiliar setting.  A "B" means that you can reliably spit back what I've taught you in familiar settings.  A "C" means that you have substantial gaps in your knowledge, but can still handle the material well enough to take classes that have M362K as a prerequisite.  A "D" means that you have learned a significant amount, but not enough to move on, and an "F" means that your progress was minimal.   I look at the whole class at the end of the term, try to judge the degree of understanding of each student, and set the cutoffs accordingly.  When I taught M362K in S'02, the cutoffs wound up being 87% for an A, 75% for a B, 65% for a C and 50% for a D.  Of the 38 students who took the final, 9 received As, 16 received Bs, 10 received Cs, 3 received Ds, and nobody failed completely.

    First Midterm:  The first midterm is on Friday the 13th (of February), and covers Chapter 2.  The exam is closed book, and calculators are NOT allowed.  However, you may bring a "crib sheet" with handwritten notes on both sides of the paper.

    Second Midterm: The second midterm is on Friday, March 12 and will cover Chapters 2 and 3.   The exam is closed book, and calculators are allowed.  As on the first exam, you are allowed to bring a "crib sheet" with handwritten notes on both sides of the paper.

    Third Midterm: The third midterm is on Friday,  April 16 and will cover through Section 5.4.   The ground rules are the same as for the 2nd exam.

    Final Exam: The final exam is on Thursday, May 13 from 2-5PM in RLM 7.104.  It will cover the entire course, with extra emphasis on the material since the 3rd midterm.  The ground rules are the same as for the 2nd and 3rd midterms, except that you are allowed two crib sheets instead of one.

    Homework:  There will be weekly problem sets, due in class on Wednesday.  Since we will be going over selected problems in class, late homework will not be accepted.  Remember that homework is primarily an exercise in learning, not in testing.  Probability can be very counterintuitive at first, and the only way to develop a reliable intuition is to work lots of problems.  If the assigned problems aren't enough, do additional problems from the book --- there are many, many good ones!

    Collaboration:  You are encouraged to work in teams on the homework.  If you don't understand something, ask a friend!  Better yet, try explaining what you know to a friend.  Both of you will benefit, as there is no better way to organize your thoughts than to have to explain things to somebody else.  (Then, if you're still confused, come to my office hours and ask me!)    In the end, however, what you write down and turn in should reflect your own understanding, and not that of your study partners.  To enforce this I depend on your sense of honor, and on the simple fact that students who cut corners on homework almost always do badly on the exams.

    Handouts and Other Course Information (always under construction):

  • Homework assignments,
  • Course schedule
  • Actual first midterm and solutions
  • (Practice) first midterm from 2002 and solutions
  • (Practice) first midterm from 2001 and solutions
  • Another older first midterm and solutions
  • Yet another first midterm and solutions
  • Actual second midterm and solutions
  • (Practice) second midterm from 2002 and solutions
  • (Practice) second midterm from 2001 with solutions
  • Another older second midterm with solutions
  • (Practice) third midterm from 2002 with solutions
  • (Practice) third midterm from 2001 with solutions.
  • Another older third midterm with solutions.
  • Actual 3rd midterm and solutions
  • 8-page blurb on continuous and discrete distributions.
  • Final exam from 2002 and solutions.
  • Final exam from 2001 and solutions.
  • Final exam from 1996 and solutions.
  • This year's actual final and solutions.

  • * Other Useful Links

  • UT Learning  Center(UTLC), 

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