mat160 - indexS10

A 20-sided die from Roman times.

MAT 160 Mathematical Problems & Games
Spring 2010

* Index
* Course Description
* Homework

First class: Tues Jan 26, 2:20 PM in Physics P-117.

About this course: 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. In fact, most of the problems we discuss are discrete by nature and cannot effectively be attacked by the techniques of calculus. 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.

Instructor: Anthony Phillips
Math Tower 3-113
E-mail: tony at

Class Schedule:  Tuesday 2:20-3:40 PM in Physics P-117

Office hours:   Wed 3:00-5:00 PM in my office, Thurs 11:15-1 in P-143

Homework: This is an essential part of the course. You will get an assignment each week. Typically you will be given 5 to 7 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. Your are strongly encouraged to do the homework together with friends in your group or other groups.

Grading: 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 tell me if you have to miss class more than 3 times in all.

Online Resources: The MAA maintains a Source Directory for problems used in the international olympiads; and another Directory with problems (and solutions) from past Putnam competitions.

Beside these, look at Math Department Problem of the Month! Win fabulous prizes ($25) for solving math problems! You can also find an archive of problems and their solutions.

DSS advisory: If you have a physical, psychiatric, medical, or learning disability that could adversely affect your ability to carry out assigned course work, we urge you to contact the Disabled Student Services office (DSS), 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 Disability Support Services. For procedures and information, go to the following web site:

Anthony Phillips
Math Dept SUNY Stony Brook
tony at
January 3, 2010