Math 246: Laboratories in Mathematical Experimentation


Spring 2017

Instructor: Dr. Julie M. Clark      
Office: Dana 107 Office Phone:   -6524

Office Hours: Posted here and on my office door. Additional hours available by appointment and by chance.

Course Schedule: TH, 12:05-12:55

Location: DANA 111

Compressed Schedule (Delayed Opening Due to Inclement Weather)

Course Web Site:

Please check the course web page frequently for updates in the schedule, handouts, and other comments or important information.

Pre-requisite: MATH 241 or permission.

Course Content:

This is a course is a 2-credit course designed for students who enjoy thinking mathematically or who would like to expand their mathematical thinking.  The primary goal is to stimulate and inspire students by allowing them to experiment in and actively investigate significant and interesting topics from a variety of applied mathematical disciplines.  It is hoped that students will come to appreciate the beauty and mystery of rich mathematical themes as well as their underlying complexity.  The list of topics explored may include (but is not limited to): Fractals, Linear Regression, Chaos and Iteration, Game Theory, Cryptology,  Voting and Apportionment, Graph Coloring, Programming, and Symmetries and Closed Curves.  We will use many computer tools including applets, Maple, Java, PowerPoint, RStudio, Excel, . . .

If you are interested in a personal copy of any of this software, please ask your instructor.


During the semester there will be daily homework assignments, end of topic unit projects, and one final projects.  Your final course grade will be determined by a roughly equally weighted average of your homework grade, unit project grade and final project grade, along with a minor component for participation and attendance.

Each assignment should be submitted by midnight on the date it is due.  Late work will be accepted only at the beginning of the class immediately following the due date, but such work will suffer a grade penalty.

Students are permitted, and in fact, strongly encouraged to work together on the homework assignments.  Submitting a group homework assignment implies a roughly equal contribution on the work from all those involved.  All assignments should be written up neatly and coherently in a manner that makes accessing and grading them as easy as possible.  Any electronic submissions SHOULD INCLUDE student names AS PART OF THE FILE NAME.

A well-written summary report should be completed for each unit project – and unit projects must be completed individually.   The report should include explanations and discussion of all mathematical calculations, computer work, and solutions.

Students are expected to attend each class, to be prepared,  to participate in class discussions and activities, and to ask relevant questions.  Each student starts the semester with a participation grade of 100%.  The grade drops with each absence and for each class for which the student is unprepared.

Portfolio Assignments

All mathematics majors and minors are required to accumulate a mathematics portfolio throughout their career at Hollins.  The portfolio should demonstrate a student’s mathematical growth and experiences at Hollins.  Students must keep copies of all assignments that are designated portfolio assignments in all MATH, CMPS or STAT courses.  Students are strongly encouraged to keep copies of all their work in Math 246 for possible inclusion in the portfolio, but the specific portfolio assignments for this course are the Unit Projects.

Academic Conduct:

Hollins sets high standard for academic integrity, and takes academic dishonesty very seriously. The following misconduct is considered an honor offense and is subject to disciplinary action: cheating, plagiarism, knowingly furnishing false information to the college or instructors, and the forgery, alteration or use of college documents or instruments of identification with the intent to defraud. Any student found to be cheating will receive a grade of zero on the assignment or test being taken and may fail the course. She will also immediately be reported to the Honor Court. In this course, collaboration on homework and projects is not seen as cheating and is encouraged. However, all work on tests should be strictly your own.

Need help?

You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of my office hours and open door  if you need assistance. Please feel free to come by my office anytime, or to send an email, or call me if you feel you need help. Success in this course requires a team effort. At a minimum that team consists of you, me, Amber, and your classmates. If you need help – ASK! If my office hours are not convenient for you, I’m in my office many other times, and am quite willing to set up another time that works for both of us. Please don’t wait until you are lost -understanding the material as we go along is crucial to success in this course!