Math 131 Syllabus - Fall 2009

Math 131 Home | Syllabus | Schedule | Practice Problems | Exam Scores | Instructors

Math 131 Syllabus - Fall 2009


In order to take MAT 131, you must have either

See the document first year mathematics at Stony Brook for more information about the math assessment and other calculus courses.

Here is a list of the math department's course offerings this semester.

The textbook

The textbook for the course is Single Variable Calculus (Stony Brook Edition 4) by James Stewart (Cengage Learning ISBN-13: 978-1-4240-7372-6). This is the same book as Single Variable Calculus: Concepts and Contexts, 4th Edition by James Stewart (Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, ISBN-13: 978-0-495-55972-6), but with a different cover. You can see the Stony Brook edition's cover here. You can buy electronic-only versions more cheaply here and here, and you can even buy individual chapters here.

The Stony Brook edition comes shrink-wrapped with a webassign card. (Here is a picture of the card.).  We won't be using it in this course, but do not throw it away!!! It will be used in other courses, such as MAT 125, and it gives multi-semester access to the webassign system. Even if you never use it, you may be able to sell it to other students who need it, or to a bookstore.

There is also a coupon for a discount ($10) on a clicker (which usually costs $25).  Clickers are used by Chemistry, some Economics and Physics classes, and two of the five MAT125 lectures this fall. 

Calculus is a prerequisite for many other courses, including some biology courses. Members of the biology department have told us, that students who take their courses, will often wnat to look back at their calculus books. Please keep this in mind if you are thinking of renting a textbook, or selling your textbook at the end of the course - you may regret it later.

Basically, this course covers from the beginning of the book, up to and including section 5.5

Assigned sections should be read before the lectures. See the schedule for a week by week list of the sections covered.


New material will be presented during the lectures. The recitations provide an opportunity, in a smaller class environment, to review the material and get questions answered.

The recitation grade will be determined by homework, quizzes and one integration worksheet.


There are three exams in math 131: two evening midterms, and a final exam. The dates for these exams are:

The rooms for the examinations will be announced later.

The final exam will be comprehensive.

The quizzes will be given at your first recitation during the weeks of Sept 21-25, Oct. 19-23, and Nov. 16-20.

Make sure that you will be available at all exam times, as there will be no make-ups for missed mid-term exams. If you miss an exam for an acceptable reason and provide an acceptable written excuse, the relevant mid-term will be dropped in computing your course grade. A letter stating that you were seen by a doctor or other medical personnel is not an acceptable document. An acceptable document should state that it was reasonable/proper for you to seek medical attention and was medically necessary for you to miss the exam (the note/letter need not state anything beyond this point). Incomplete grades will be granted only if documented circumstances beyond your control prevent you from taking the final exam. You must have ID to be admitted to exams.

No calculators, notes, or books, etc., are allowed during the exams. The problems will require pencil and paper reasoning only.

Warning about Calculators and Solution Manuals: Calculators and solution manuals can be of great assistance in helping you to learn the material, if used properly. If used improperly, they can actually cause great damage. Here is the proper way to use them, when you want to work on a problem:

First do the problem yourself, without touching the calculator or solution manual.

Then use the calculator or solution manual to check your work.

If the calculator or solution manual reveal any surprises, find a logical explanation for them.

Calculator abuse: When you first see a problem, your first response should be to think, not to punch buttons on a calculator; otherwise you are suffering from calculator abuse. Students with this syndrome lose out in the following ways:

They do not develop self-confidence in their own abilities to work the problems, which is essential for mathematical growth.

Mathematics is outside them, not part of them. You may have noticed that, if you write down a phone number, you are less likely to remember it. Similarly, calculator abusers often find themselves with poor memories for mathematics.

They do not learn to calculate well. Many courses in physics and the other sciences require students to be able to follow, and do, very complicated calculations.

Grading policy

Final course grades will be determined by the following breakdown:


We reserve the right to take attendance in lectures, from September 14 until November 13. Counting only days when attendance is taken, anyone who, without permission,` misses lecture, shows up more than 10 minutes late, or leaves early, more than twice, will have their final grade reduced by one unit (e.g. from a B- to a C+).

Questions on Midterms and Final

Most of the questions will be similar to those on the homework. However, a few will be of a different nature: more conceptual, and designed to test whether you really understand the material; often you will not have seen anything similar to these questions on the homework. Some students feel it is not "fair" to be asked questions unless they have been drilled on similar kinds of questions. In fact it is not "fair" to you to give you an education where you are simply drilled on certain kinds of problems and tested on similar problems, since your ability to get and keep a job later in life depends heavily on how well you have learned to think things out on your own -- not on how well you can solve rote problems that computers can easily solve.

Keep up!

Please remember that mathematics is cumulative, so don't fall behind! If you are behind, you will find new material presented in lectures much more difficult to follow, and you will be forced to try to learn that new material on your own. This will cost you a lot of extra time.


If you have any complaints about the course, please contact your instructor first. If this does not resolve the matter, please contact the course coordinator. If, after the course is over, you wish to request a change in your final grade, send a letter (not an e-mail) to your instructor; you will receive a written reply. Grade change requests will be dealt with in writing only; that way, we have a written record of what the student says, and what we reply.

Extra help

Math Learning Center:

The Math Learning Center is located in room S240A in the basement of the Math Tower. It is staffed Monday - Thursday by experienced mathematics tutors, including professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students. Students may drop in, without an appointment. Your recitation leader will hold at least one office hour per week at the Math Learning Center. See the Math Learning Center website for more information.

Office hours

The lecturers and the recitation instructors will hold three office hours per week, one of which may be in the Math Learning Center (room S240A of the Math Tower). The specific times of these office hours will be announced by the lecturers and the recitation instructors and will be posted on the instructors page when the times and locations are finalized.

Americans with Disabilities Act:

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, room128, (631) 632-6748. They will determine with you what accommodations, if any, are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential. Arrangements should be made early in the semester (before the first exam) so that your needs can be accommodated.

Academic Integrity:

Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Faculty are required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website at

Critical Incident Management:

Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students' procedures.