Fall 2013

There will be lots of homework. If this is your first course beyond calculus and linear algebra you may find the problems different from those you have encountered before in a math course. Few of them have what one could narrowly call an answer. All require playing with numbers, observing patterns, writing convincing arguments.

There will be a midterm and a term paper. The final examination will probably be (mostly) take-home.

I am considering structuring a significant fraction of the semester as a seminar. If I do, each student will present. All will be responsible for all the material covered.

I do not use an algorithm to compute grades. Here's roughly how I weigh the factors:

- 60% homework (including seminar presentation, final paper)
- 25% exams
- 15% enthusiasm, class participation, effort expended

I do not grade on a curve. Everyone can earn an A. (Wouldn't that be a wonderful class!)

` eb at cs dot umb dot edu`

is the best way to reach me, both
during the day and evenings and weekends. My office phone is 287-6444
but I don't have voice mail and I.m not always there. My home phone is
(617) 969-2892, but please use that only for real
emergencies. (Emergencies that happen after 8 PM should wait for the
next day.)
Often other students in the class can help you. It's worth learning how to work with, learn from (and help) your peers - how else will you keep learning when you've left school?

Here are several others you may find might find useful. The first few are inexpensive and I recommend them highly.

- Richard Friedberg,
An
Adventurer.s Guide to Number Theory, Dover, ISBN: 0486281337,
$10.95.
You can read the reviews on Amazon but buy it from the publisher, or the bookstore.

- My text: Ethan Bolker,
Elementary Number
Theory: An Algebraic Approach,
Dover, ISBN: 0486458075, $13.95.
This treatment is designed for students who have studied abstract algebra. I earn no royalties on the sale, so it's OK to recommend it. It too is so inexpensive that you should order direct from Dover. The Amazon savings are almost infinitesimal, unless you're getting free shipping.

- Alfred Beiler's Recreations in the Theory of Numbers is also available from Dover, for $14.95. You can find used copies on the web (try Abe books) for a dollar or two. Read the Amazon reviews.

That said, you may find that automating some computations helps you understand the number theory, both because it gives you access to larger examples than you can construct by hand, and because to code an algorithm you must master it. In the past students have written programs in C, Pascal, Scheme, mathematica and for their programmable calculators.

If you want to use a computer and don't want to write your own programs, there is lots of number theory software out there. Most of it is for professionals but there are packages that are essentially instructional. I don't know of any, but would be pleased to help you decide whether one you found was worth working with.

For my own elaboration on the rules concerning the acknowledgment of intellectual debt, particularly appropriate in this course where the focus is on teamwork, see http://www.cs.umb.edu/~eb/honesty