MAT 131, Spring 2004
Course Description

Welcome to calculus!

integration picture Calculus is the mathematics of change and motion, of limits and areas. Although its beginnings go back to Archimedes in ancient times (around 225 BC), it was not well-developed until after the Renaissance, at the time of Newton and Leibnitz (late 1600's). From the fact that the development took this long, one might surmise that Calculus is a major intellectual advance. Indeed its mastery requires something quite different from previous mathematics, the notions of limits or infinitesimals. Because of this you should not be surprised to find that calculus is not easy.  (Read more about the history of calculus ).

On the other hand today over 300 years after calculus was developed, we are in an age where some of its basic notions are ubiquitous.   The applicability of calculus is so broad that fluency in it is essential for a successful career in science or engineering. The goal of MAT 131 is to develop your understanding of the concepts of calculus and to develop your ability to apply them to problems in mathematics, science, and engineering.

The basic objects of study in calculus (indeed, in much of mathematics) are functions. In this course, functions are presented and analyzed from several points of view: as symbolic formulae, as graphs, as numerical data, and as relationships between quantities arising in applications. Similarly, the three main concepts of calculus (limits, derivatives, and integrals) are studied from these vantage points. All of these approaches to understanding are essential.

Learning mathematics involves both achieving a deep understanding of concepts and learning new skills.  Your instructors can help you with both of these, but ultimately your learning is your responsibility.  A deep understanding can be achieved by reading about, thinking about, and experimenting with the ideas of calculus.  Skills can only be developed through practice .

Prerequisites: You must have completed either MAT 123 or MAT 130 or have received a score of 5 or better on the Mathematics Placement Examination (MPE) administered by the Department of Mathematics to all incoming freshmen. Other Mathematics and Calculus courses are more suitable if you received a lower (or higher) MPE score; see the document ``First Year Mathematics at Stony Brook'' .  

picture of textbook Text: The required textbook is Calculus: Concepts and Contexts, Single Variable, Second Edition by James Stewart. You should read the assigned sections before the lecture! Reading the textbook will greatly increase your comprehension of the lectures and enable you to ask useful questions in class. Furthermore, the lecturers and recitation instructors will not always be able to cover all of the subject material for which you will be responsible.

Homework: You cannot learn calculus without working problems. Homework problems will be assigned each week. Do all of the assigned problems. Solutions should be written neatly and clearly. Problems that ask you to ``explain'' or ``describe'' should be answered with complete English sentences. Solutions are due in recitation on the dates indicated; selected ones will be graded . It is also recommended that you work additional problems to increase your understanding.  The problems on exams will be very similar to the problems assigned for homework!  When your graded homework assignment is returned, take a moment to look over any problems that you got wrong.  This will help you to correct and improve your understanding of the ideas and methods.

It is a good idea to form a regular study group of 3-4 people with whom you work on homework problems.  When you are stuck on a problem, you have someone to ask immediately for help, and explaining ideas to others in your group helps you to clarify them yourself.  If your whole group has trouble on a certain problem, get help from your recitation instructor, your lecturer, your classmates, or from tutors in the Math Learning Center . However, you must write up the solutions to homework problems yourself.  Simply copying someone else's solution and putting your name on it is representing the work as your own.  This is considered plagiarism and is a violation of the university's code of academic conduct.

Examinations: The examinations are common to all sections of MAT 131. There will be an early midterm exam, two evening examinations, and a final examination, scheduled as follows.


Early Midterm Exam: Wednesday, February 11 08:30 - 10:00 pm
Midterm Exam I: Tuesday, February 24
08:30 - 10:00 pm
Midterm Exam II: Monday, March 29 08:30 - 10:00 pm
Final Exam: Monday, May 17 11:00-1:30 pm


Exam locations will be announced in class and on this website.

Make sure you can attend all exams at the scheduled times; make-up exams will not be given. If you have any evening classes, resolve any conflicts now. If one midterm is missed because of a serious (documented) illness or emergency, the semester grade will be determined based on the balance of work in the class.

The Early Midterm Exam is designed to test topics with which you are already fairly familiar, and which will be crucial to your success in MAT 131. This should help you to get into good study habits right away, as well as get some feedback early on about whether MAT 131 is the best class for you this semester. Consult the document ``Spring 2004 Early Midterm Exam'' for more information, including a list of topics and on-line practice examinations.

When studying for exams, it is a good idea to review the topics that will be tested, then to do many practice problems.  Working most on the problems that you liked the least on the homework is often a good strategy.  When taking the exam, look over all of the problems and do the easiest ones first.  Then go back and spend time on harder problems.  Allow yourself time at the end to read over your solutions and check for "dumb mistakes."

Late Drop Down period: Students are permitted to transfer among the courses MAT 122 through MAT 142 as late as Friday, March 19. The date is arranged to come after both the early exam and the first midterm, so you will have definite feedback on your performance by then.  If you do either very well or very badly on the early exam or on the first midterm, do not be shy about asking your instructor, your TA, or an advisor in the Undergraduate Mathematics office (Math P-143) for advice!

Quizzes: At the moment, no quizzes are planned. This is subject to the decision of your TA, and may be changed during the course of the semester.

Grading: Your final grade in MAT 131 will be determined by the following components.


Recitation Grade: 20%
Early Midterm Exam: 10%
Midterm Exam I: 20%
Midterm Exam II: 20%
Final Exam: 30%


The Recitation Grade will be determined by your recitation instructor based on your quiz grades, homework grades, and class participation.

Math Learning Center: The Math Learning Center (MLC), located in Room S-240 in the S-Level of the Math Tower, is an important resource. It is staffed most days and some evenings by mathematics tutors (professors and advanced students); your lecturer and recitation instructor will hold at least one office hour there. For more information and a schedule, consult the MLC web site .


Calculators: A calculator with graphing capability may be useful for use in lectures and recitation sections, but is not required. Recommended calculators are the Texas Instruments TI-82 or TI-85 and the Sharp EL-9300 or EL-9600. A graphing calculator serves as an important learning tool, allowing you to visualize and analyze functions and to make numerical calculations. However, facility with a graphing calculator is not a substitute for mathematical understanding, which is the goal of the course and without which you will not succeed.  Use of calculators will not be permitted on examinations.

Internet Access: Internet access using a web browser will be necessary. For instance, practice exam and homework questions will be available on-line. In addition, your lecturer or recitation instructor may require you to to use a web browser for some assignments.

The web site will be maintained with up-to-date information concerning MAT 131. In particular, check here for homework assignments and announcements .

Americans with Disability Act: If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disabled Student Services (DSS), in Educational Communications Center (ECC) 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 Disabled Student Services. For procedures and information, go to the following website: