Math 490 Senior Seminar
Department of Mathematics
Towson University

Senior Seminar

Spring 2018

Instructor: Alexei Kolesnikov
Office: YR 325
Office hours:    Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30pm to 2:30pm or by appointment

In this capstone course we discuss several key mathematical topics. Some of them were covered in previous mathematics courses, and some of them may be new, or may offer a new perspective on mathematics you know.

We will explore the topics in John Conway's Mathematical connections. The culmination of the course will be formal presentations of the project papers.

OBJECTIVES This will be a mathematically rigorous and demanding course, with high expectations for the level of skills needed in your professional lives upon graduation, no matter which career path you choose. Some of the skills include:
  • communication skills (written and verbal);
  • ability to work independently as well as in teams;
  • professional attitude;
  • curiosity and intellectual flexibility.
In addition, as a mathematics major, you will be expected to understand and interpret mathematics and to be able to communicate it to other prefessional mathematicians and non-specialists in mathematics. This course will improve your ability to:
  • independently understand and work with abstract mathematical concepts;
  • relate abstract concepts to examples and communicate motivation behind the (sometimes) dry definitions;
  • make well-structured presentations, handle questions from the audience;
  • be active members of the audience (when not making presentations).
TEXT Mathematical Connections, A Capstone Course by J.B.Conway.
EVALUATION The grade will be based on in-class presentations (20%), mid-term exams/projects (40%), final project paper (15%) and final presentation (25%). Presentation evaluation criteria:
  • organization of the talk (whether it covers the assigned topic, logical structure, pace)
  • quality of understanding (choice of examples and motivating comments, ability to answer questions)
  • quality of communication (contact with the audience, enthusiasm, legibility, audibility)

Each of the criteria will be graded on a 1-3-5 scheme (to be explained in class). For the grade of A on in-class presentations, the average of grades should be at least 4. For the grade of B, the average grade should be at least 3, and no more than one 0.

The grading policy for written work will be clarified as needed.

COURSE POLICIES Attendance at meetings is expected. If you miss a meeting, it is your responsibility to switch the topics with your classmates.

You should expect to spend a considerable amount of time working on this course. At the same time, try to be efficient. If you are spending a lot of time on preparation without making much progress, talk to me.

You are encouraged to discuss your presentations with each other. In fact, group work is the most efficient way to study in a course like this.

University's Academic Integrity Policy will be enforced; everyone caught cheating on any assignment will face a range of penalties, up to a failing grade in the course. The use of external to the course sources is allowed (moreover, encouraged), provided the sources are appropriately quoted.

Everyone participating in this course is expected to be respectful of each other without regard to race, class, linguistic background, religion, political beliefs, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, veteran's status, or physical ability. If you feel these expectations have not been met, please feel free to discuss it with me or with the designated diversity liaison Dr. Elizabeth Goode.

If you have questions or concerns about the course, be sure to discuss them with me.