Course: Math 459
Instructor: Prof. Joe Borzellino
Time: TR 4:10–6:00pm, Mathematics & Science 38-201
Office Hours: MF 10:00am-11:00am TR 3:00pm–4:00pm, (or by appt) in FOE 25-302
Phone: 756–5192
E–Mail: jborzell
Web Page:
Course Text: Keith Devlin, Mathematics: the new golden age
Alternative Sources:
  • Keith Devlin, The Millennium Problems: The Seven Greatest Unsolved Mathematical Puzzles of Our Time
  • E.T. Bell, Men of Mathematics
  • The American Mathematical Monthly (QA 1 A515 - old issues available online through PolyCat)
  • College Mathematics Journal (QA11 .A1 T9)
  • Your senior project topic
  • Anything else that is appropriate (consult with me first)

Course Description: Simply speaking, this is a seminar course in which you will be an active participant. Each of you will be required to make two 2-hour presentations to the class.

Presentation One will be a lecture on (a) typical topic(s) that you find interesting from any 300/400 level undergraduate mathematics course. Your goal is to pretend that you are presenting this topic to an undergraduate audience for the first time as an instructor. Since this is a 2-hour presentation, you may need to present two separate topics instead of one. Since a rule of thumb is that "you don't know it, 'til you teach it", you may want to consider something that was confusing to you the first time you learned it. More ambitious/difficult topics will reflect positively on your presentation grade, and you should clear your topic with me first.

Presentation Two will be based on an investigation into a mathematical topic of your choice. You must get approval for the topic from me before you begin your investigation. This presentation should contain all relevant background information, important theorems and their proofs (when appropriate). You are giving this presentation to you classmates and thus it should be understandable to them. Ideas for topics can come from any of the resources listed above. If you use an article from the Monthly or CMJ as the basis for your presentation, please make copies to hand out to the class before your presentation.

Important Before giving a presentation, you must schedule an appointment with me to go over the details of what you are going to present. This should be scheduled enough in advance so that if our discussion warrants changes to your presentation, those changes can be incorporated. If you do not meet with me before your presentation you will receive a failing grade for the course.

Grading: The quality of your presentations will be the primary factor in determining your grade on the presentations. Presentations should be well-prepared both in content and delivery. Since this is a seminar course, attendance will also be considered. A good seminar is one that is well attended. Thus, if you miss three or more classes you will receive no credit for attendance; otherwise, you will receive full credit. Your grade for the course will be determined as follows:

Presentation One 40% Presentation Two 40% Attendance 20%

Other Dates to Remember:
January 17 MLK B-Day (Monday)
February 21 GW B-Day (Monday)
March 11 Last Day of Classes (Friday)

Math 459
Guidelines for Presentation
Course Calendar