Course Description

This short course, consisting of 8 lectures, primarily focuses on introducing the concept of surfaces from a topological point of view. We'll try and analyze surfaces by thinking of them as built out of infinitely thin rubber which can be stretched or shrunk. We'll construct explicit surfaces using paper and scissors that will aid us in the beginning. In the process of these constructions, one is lead to a way of assigning an integer for any surface. This seemingly simple observation has interesting and important consequences. Finally, we'll also analyze curves (or a piece of closed string) on a surface and see what new information this may provide us about the ambient surface.

Although we'll not be strictly following the syllabus for WSE 187 course taught previously, you're encouraged to check the website for the past WSE 187 courses. However, the syllabus we'll follow is essentially the same as last year.

Course Material

There is no required textbook for this course. The course will be directed by your ideas and questions. The lectures will mainly be group discussions with interactive exchange of views. You are encouraged to go back and think about the concepts discussed in class and develop some visual understanding. This is an outline/course material of what we have covered so far and what are some topics we hope to discuss.

Class Details

Dates - February 3rd, 8th, 10th, 15th, 17th, 22nd, 24th and March 1st.
TuTh  3:50 pm - 5:10 pm
Lecture Hall 4-130 (Math Tower)
In general, there are no homeworks for this course. However, you will be asked to present something to the class on March 1st. You will also have to hand in two assignments.

Homework 1 Due date 17th February
Homework 2 Due date 24th February

As part of your first such assignment you should visit this really cool webpage by Jeff Weeks, install the free software and choose one of the games that you have played when you were a kid. You may choose from tic-tac-toe, mazes, chess, crossword, jigsaws and more. Make yourself familiar with the world of torus and Klein bottle. At some later time we would like each of you to say what you found out. Even later on, one of the in-class assignment will involve eating bagels (with or without cheese).

Office and Office Hours

We will not schedule office hours, but both of us are often around the department. Send us an e-mail or drop by with questions or concerns.

Somnath Basu,   Math Tower 3-104,
Nissim Ranade,   Math Tower S-240,

Important : There are no exams for this course. However, you're supposed to write a final project at the end. This may include a short essay on what you have learned from this course. The final project includes a final presentation given by you on a problem chosen from a list of topics.


Students with Disabilities

If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services, ECC (Educational Communications Center) Building, room 128, (631) 632-6748. They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential. Students requiring emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information, go to the following web site: