Welcome to Math 104: A World of Mathematics! This syllabus is meant to introduce you to both the structure and motivation for this course. Please take a close look and be sure to have it easily accessible during the semester. I’m looking forward to working with you!


Typically, our exposure to mathematics in high school is focused on preparing us for calculus. We learn about polynomials, graphing, trigonometry, logarithms, and a whole lot of solving for x. But this is only a glimpse at a much, much broader world of mathematics. Here are some motivating questions which have interested mathematicians over the years:

  • How big is infinity? Is there anything bigger?
  • When are two shapes “the same”?
  • Can we classify the types of 2-dimensional geometric patterns?
  • We can easily tile a flat plane with squares; what else can we use? What about something that isn’t flat?
  • How can we quantify uncertainty?
  • When is a voting system fair? How can we tell?

In this course, we will explore a variety of mathematical areas and ideas, focusing on what it means to think like a mathematician. We will also investigate connections between mathematics and history, art, and society. Some of our topics will include counting, infinity, geometric patterns, topology, networks, uncertainty, and social choice.

Course Objectives

  • Explore the vast landscape of mathematical study
  • Develop practical quantitative reasoning skills
  • Reflect on our own mathematical experiences and connect with the mathematical community
  • Practice and improve mathematical communication and collaboration skills
  • Discuss connections between the study of mathematics and its impacts in the real world

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Communicate mathematical ideas from a variety of areas
  • Interpret and explain common mathematical statements in day-to-day life
  • Identify several historical areas of mathematics and some of their core ideas

Administrative Information

  • Classroom: Pardee 421
  • My office: Pardee 229
  • Office Hours: Monday 1-2pm, Tuesday 2-4pm
  • Email:
  • Course website:


The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking, 4th Edition by Burger and Starbird

Course Components

Here, I’ve described some of the structure for our course. Take a look to see what you can expect throughout the semester.

Active Learning

In this course, we place a heavy emphasis on the value of in-class group learning. While there will still be some amount of traditional lecturing, you should expect to spend the majority of each class period learning collaboratively with your peers. While the work you complete in class will not be graded on its correctness, you will still receive a grade based on your effort to collaborate with your classmaters.

Office Hours

For a few hours each week, I will be available to chat about the course in my office (Pardee 229). While it is often helpful to come with a specific concept or question you’d like to discuss, I’m also happy to just chat about how things are going. You do not need to request time for my scheduled office hours - you can just drop by! If you cannot make it to my scheduled hours but want to chat, let me know and I will do my best to find a time when we can meet.


We will have weekly homework assignments which should be written by hand (or typed) and submitted via Gradescope. Details for accessing the homework will be available on Moodle. The purpose of these assignments is to both solidify what you learn in class and expand on that knowledge. You are highly encouraged to work with your peers, but keep in mind the point of the assignment: to help you learn!


Throughout the semester, you will complete a few projects on the course material. Some projects will involve groupwork (beginning in class and finished outside of class) and others may be done individually. In each project, you will be graded on the quality of your explanation as well as the correctness of your work. More information on the projects will be announced as we approach them.


The graded work in this course includes homework, in-class participation, projects, and a final essay. These categories combine to form your final grade according to the following breakdown:

  • In-class group work: 10%
  • Homework: 20%
  • Projects: 50%
  • Final: 15%

The course grading scheme is subject to alteration during the semester, and I will announce any changes if they occur.

Policies and Resources

No syllabus would be complete without the fine print! These sections are important, though - please be sure to familiarize yourself with it and keep an eye out for resources which may be helpful to you.

Covid Precautions

In an effort to ensure everyone’s safety, mask-wearing is required in class and during office hours. Please be sure to bring a well-fitting mask which covers your nose and mouth. We may revise this policy later in the semester, depending on how the covid situation evolves.

Diversity and Inclusion

We value diversity and inclusion, and are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation both in and out of the classroom. This class strives to be a learning environment that is equitable, inclusive, and welcoming, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background, and nationality. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, please don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with me.


Discussing mathematics can often be difficult - it takes practice! Please work hard to be considerate and respectful when talking to your classmates. Remember that we are not just machines for solving math problems. We are humans as well!

Disability Resources

Lafayette is committed to providing support and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities who self-identify with Accessibility Services. Students requesting accommodations to alleviate the impact of their disability should register their needs as soon as possible with the Accessibility Services Office, which is housed in the Academic Resource Hub ( Once registered, students should request their accommodation letters to provide notification of their needs to their professors, on a semester by semester basis. If you have questions or concerns pertaining specifically to your accommodations within this course, please contact me to discuss them.

Religious Observations

If you anticipate that you will have an unavoidable course conflict due to a religious observation, please meet with me as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate arrangements.

Academic Honesty

While working collaboratively on homework is (strongly) encouraged, the submission of work which is not your own is strictly prohibited. This includes (but is not limited to) copying answers from peers or the internet. Explicitly, you may discuss assignments together, but your written work must be your own. When you do work with someone else or get help from an outside source, please cite it accordingly.

Federal Credit Hour Compliance

The student work in this course is in full compliance with the federal definition of a four credit hour course. Please see the Lafayette College Compliance webpage ( for the full policy and practice statement.