Probability I

Class Meetings: MWF 12:30 - 1:20, Bagby 111

Office Hours: MWF 2:30 - 4:00, TR 2:30 - 3:30

Homework Problems, Lecture Slides and Notes

Course Description

Probability is the mathematical theory of randomness. In addition to being an important field of mathematics in its own right, it also provides the theoretical underpinnings for statistics. This course is an introduction to mathematical probability, including: the axioms of probability, probability models, distributions and densities, conditional probability and Bayes Theorem, expected value, laws of large numbers, the central limit theorem, and other topics as time permits.


Math 242 (Calculus III).  It is desirable to have Math 231 (Linear Algebra) as well.

Class Meetings

MWF 12:30 - 1:20, Bagby 111

Final Exam Date

Wednesday, December 18, 9:00 - noon.


None.  I will be providing brief notes, as well as some handouts.  Taking good notes is very important in this class!

Determination of Course Grade

  • two in-class tests: 20% each
  • final exam: 25%
  • homework: 30%
  • culture points: 5%


Two in-class tests will be given. Tentative dates for the tests are

  • Test 1 -- Monday, September 30
  • Test 2 -- Monday, November 11

Final Exam

A comprehensive, in-class final exam will be given on Wednesday, December 18, from 9:00 until noon.

Homework Notebook

I will assign homework problems at the end of each lecture. You are expected to do all assigned problems by the beginning of the next class.  All your homework solutions should be kept in a dedicated homework notebook (separate from your class notes). Approximately once a week I will collect the homework notebooks to grade.  Half of your homework grade will be based on the mathematical correctness of your solutions.  The other half will be based on the clarity of your exposition, and the neatness and legibility of your write-up.  To recieve full credit for this portion of the homework grade, your write-up should satisfy the following:

  • Each problem should be clearly labeled, and should be separated from other problems by at least two lines of whitespace.
  • Each solution should begin with a statement of the problem.  (This can be copied directly from the assignment.)
  • Each solution should be written out clearly and legibly, and organized in a logical manner.  There should be no heavy erasures or "scratched out" work in your solution.  Tip: work out the solutions on scratch paper, then write up a "fair copy" of the solution in your notebook, in pencil.

Homework notebooks are due at the beginning of the class period of the due date.  No late homework will be accepted.

Mathematics Cultural Points

Mathematics is one of the oldest of the academic disciplines, and in addition to its intellectual content, it has a rich history and culture. Mathematics culture points ("cults") are awarded for activities which engage with that culture in a substantive, non-trivial way. You may earn cultural points in a variety of ways, such as attending and reporting on a Math/CS colloquium talk, or solving a Math/CS Problem of the Month. In order to receive the full 5% credit for cultural points, you must earn at least 10 cults. Cults are awarded for the following activities:

  • Attending a Math/CS colloquium, either at Hampden-Sydney or Longwood (+5)
  • Submitting a non-trivial solution to a new Math/CS Problem of the Month, either at H-SC or Longwood (+5)
  • Submitting a non-trival solution to a new problem in a Math Journal (+5)
  • Presenting a paper or poster at a mathematics conference (+10)

To earn cults for a particular activity, a student must submit a brief write-up (approximately one page, word processed) addressing the following topics:

  • A description of the activity and a summary of what the student's participation entailed (e.g. for a colloquium talk this would include a summary of the details of the talk; for a solved problem, this would mean a complete solution to the problem).
  • A description of how the specific activity deepened their understanding and appreciation of mathematics, in particular if it connected to their current course material.

Note that all reports must be word-processed.  Handwritten reports are not accepted.

The number of cults awarded for a specific activity depends on the quality of the write-up.  In grading the cults, you will not receive the full cults score if you do not use proper spelling and grammar in your write-up.  If anything is misspelled or if there is at least one instance of improper grammar, you will not receive the full cults score. 

Attendance and Excused Absences

You are expected to attend every class. See the Hampden-Sydney College Catalog for the College's policies on class attendance. Excessive absences may result in forced withdrawal from the course.  You assume full responsibility for all material covered during any absence. A grade of "0" will be assigned for all work missed due to unexcused absences.

Make-Up Policy

Late homework assignments are not accepted, and result in a 0.  If you find that you must miss a test for any legitimate reason (illness, college-sponsored event), you must get in contact with me before the test is given to arrange a make-up.  In the case of a College-sponsored event, the make-up must be given before the announced date of the test.  Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in a grade of 0 for the test.  

Laptops, Cell Phones, Tablets, Texting, etc.

  • no laptops or tablets in class
  • all cell phones should be turned off during class, or be put in silent mode
  • no texting or other use of the internet during class please