Instructor: Ljudmila Kamenova
Office: 3-115, Math Tower.
email: kamenova at
Meeting: W 5:20-6:40 p.m. Physics P116.
Office hours: W 1:15-2:15 in the MLC and W 4-5 p.m. in 3-115 (Math Tower).

Description: This course is intended for students who are interested in sharpening their problem solving skills, and in developing their mathematical intuition and ability to express mathematical ideas. There will be no standard "calculus type'' material in this course. As a matter of fact, most of the problems we discuss have a discrete nature and the techniques of calculus cannot be effectively used to attack them. Here are some of the topics that we will be discussing through problem-solving: mathematical induction, the pigeonhole principle, counting, finding patterns, elementary logic, divisibility, probability, graphs, elementary geometry.

The class will be divided into groups of approximately 3 people, to accommodate students with different backgrounds and experience. Many of the problems will require little formal knowledge of mathematics. Despite this, they can be very challenging and fun to do.

Text: We will not follow a particular textbook. The class will be mostly based on the examples assigned in the Homework.
Here are some references that you may find helpful. You are encouraged to consult them.
  1. Problem Solving Through Problems, by Larson, Springer-Verlag, 1983.
  2. Challenging Mathematical Problems with Elementary Solutions volumes I and II, by Yaglom and Yaglom, Dover Publications, 1987.
  3. The USSR Olympiad Problem Book, by Shklarsky, Chentzov and Yaglom, Dover Publications, 1993.

Homework problems: This is an essential part of the course. You will get an assignment each week. Typically you will be given 3 to 5 problems and asked to come up with some ideas on how to tackle them. You will be required to write down the solutions to one or two problems. You are encouraged to do the homework together with friends in your group or other groups. However, the write-up should be your own.

Problem Sets:
Homework 1
Homework 2
Homework 3
Homework 4
Homework 5
Homework 6
Homework 7
Homework 8
Homework 9
Homework 10


Grading Policy: MAT 160 is a one credit course with S/U grading. Thus on your transcript you will either get an S and one credit, or a U and no credit. The grade will not affect your GPA. You will be graded on your effort, which will be measured by class attendance and participation, and on the effort expended on homework. There is no final exam. If you wish to get an S for this class, you must keep up with the homework and should not miss class more than 3 times in all.

For people 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:

Academic Integrity Statement: 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 instance of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary.

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, and/or inhibits students' ability to learn.