Department of Mathematical and Digital Sciences
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Mathematical Thinking
101-98 (online)

Summer 2019

Professor: Drue Coles

Office hours:  Monday-Thursday at 1:00-2:00 and 7:00-8:00 PM. Office hours are an opportunity for us to discuss any questions you may have about course content, policies, procedures, and so on. We connect through Zoom, a commercial web conferencing service. You have free access to Zoom through BOLT. Also, I will be glad to answer questions by email throughout the week and on weekends. As a general rule, I check email several times daily and respond to each message as soon as I see it.

Text: For All Practical Purposes, 10th edition, Comap, W.H. Freeman and Company, 2016.

Course Description.   If you have studied arithmetic and geometry during your K-12 years and decided that mathematics is uninteresting, you are among the majority. But that is like studying the rules of spelling to the point of boredom and deciding that literature is uninteresting. The rules of spelling are important, but they tell you nothing about novels and poetry. In the same way, your early exposure to practical arithmetic and geometry was important, but it probably did not reveal to you anything about the scope and character of modern applied mathematics. That is exactly what this course is about.

Mathematical thinking is explored in this course through a variety of interesting ideas from different areas of applied mathematics. For example, we will learn about common voting methods and see how each of them can lead to paradoxical outcomes. We will also study methods for the fair division of property and goods among parties with conflicting interests. And we will discover that the movement of objects through a network can be modeled mathematically in order to investigate everything from the efficient routing of delivery trucks to the propagation of rumors through a social network.

Reading Assignments

Lectures.  The video lectures for each chapter are accessible through BOLT. These are narrated PowerPoint presentations devoted to essential concepts, techniques, vocabulary, and background material covered in the chapter. The lectures are intended to help you understand the material presented in the book. Sometimes they provide additional perspective and alternative explanations, but they are not a substitute for the book. You will need to complete the reading assignments and watch the lectures, although the order in which to perform these activities is up to you.

Grading.  Course grades are determined by chapter quizzes, a midterm exam, and a comprehensive final exam.

Quiz Average
Midterm Exam
Final Exam

Your weighted total will be converted to a letter grade using the following scale:


Quizzes.  There will be a quiz administered through BOLT for each of the first five chapters covered. Each quiz contributes 10% to your course grade, or 50% overall as stated above, and typically consists of 10 multiple-choice questions with a 30-minute time limit. No books, notes, or other references are permitted, but you will need to have scratch paper available for some of the problems. A calculator will not be needed (or allowed).

Exams.  The midterm and final exams are proctored using ProctorU, an online service available to you at no charge. After you have created an account, you will be able to log in and schedule your midterm and final exams. ProctorU has excellent chat help in case you should encounter any kind of technical problems while taking an exam. More information about setting up an account and scheduling exams will be provided later. Both exams will be given in a multiple-choice format with a two-hour time limit.

You must have a microphone and webcam for your computer and a wired internet connection to take exams. I am sorry but exceptions are not possible. If you do not have these items and cannot afford to get them, it will not be possible for you to take the course online. Traditional on-campus sections of the course that do not have these requirements are offered during the fall and spring semesters.

Homework.  I assign plenty of homework to prepare you for the quizzes and exams. The problems are even-numbered end-of-chapter exercises from the book. Homework is not submitted for grading or evaluation, but solutions are posted in BOLT so that you can verify your understanding of the material. In addition to the assigned exercises, you are encouraged to try similar odd-numbered exercises on your own initiative and to check the answers in the back of the book. I will be glad to help you during office hours. That, in fact, is the purpose of office hours. It will be difficult or impossible to pass the quizzes and exams without a solid grasp of the underlying concepts.

Course Format.  The course is six weeks long and each week is devoted to one chapter of our textbook. In order to prepare for a chapter quiz, you will need to:

These activities are completely self-paced, but each quiz must be taken during a two-day window at the end of the week (see dates below). You should plan on spending a couple of hours each day on coursework. If this is not going to be feasible for you, it would be better to take the course during the regular fall or spring semester.

Quiz and Exam Dates.  Each quiz and exam must be taken during its two-day window of availability as specified below. The exact time of day is up to you, but it would be best to leave yourself enough time to try later in case of any technical problems with your computer or internet connection. As soon as you submit a quiz or exam, you will see your score. Once the two-day window of availability is over, the system will automatically make a report available to you that shows each question, your answer, and the correct answer. I will be glad to discuss any of the solutions during office hours.

Chapter 1 Quiz Thursday, July 4 Friday, July 5
Chapter 2 Quiz Thursday, July 11 Friday, July 12
Chapter 4 Quiz Thursday, July 18 Friday, July 19
MIDTERM EXAM Monday, July 22 Tuesday, July 23
Chapter 9 Quiz Thursday, July 25 Friday, July 26
Chapter 13 Quiz Thursday, August 1 Friday, August 2
FINAL EXAM Thursday, August 8 Friday, August 9

Failing to take a quiz or exam during its scheduled availability is equivalent to not coming to class on the day of a test in a traditional (on campus) course, resulting in a zero for that quiz or exam. There are no make-ups.