Getting Started
Homework 1
Math 114Q

Advice about doing well in this course, and about doing mathematics when that's necessary. To reason quantitatively you need to pay attention to two somewhat contradictory things at the same time: important general ideas and tiny nagging details.

In the first parts of this homework, the single general idea is straightforward: describe your mathematical background. The details aren't in the thinking - they are in the directions. Read them carefully and follow them carefully!

  1. email contact information. I will use email regularly to communicate with you. So the first order of business is to make sure we can reach one another that way. Here is your assignment. Read it carefully and follow the directions.

    1. From the email account you plan to use for this course (The one UMass has given you, or gmail, or yahoo, or comcast, or verizon, or anything else you choose) write me at The subject line should look like this:
      Subject: Math 114Q [fill in your full name]
    2. When I receive your email I'll respond - then you'll know we have two way communication.

    Note: Your email provider should offer you the choice of sending mail as plain text or as a web page (with html). If you can, please always use just plain text.

  2. Your qr autobiography. Write a short essay about your experiences dealing with numbers and learning and doing mathematics. Here are some questions you may consider. You need not address them all and you can add others. Don't just answer them one after another as if this were an exam. Treat them as a guide when you organize your answer. Clearly these are not questions with right or wrong answers (except for you), so there's no point in trying to figure out what I want you to say. Honesty is the best policy.

  3. Your computer background. Write a few paragraphs describing your experiences using a computer. Here are questions (like those in Part 2 above) you might consider.

  4. Acknowledging intellectual debts. Visit the course home page at Explore the links you find there. Find the discussion of plagiarism. Read it carefully. Then write a brief summary, in your own words, so that I know you have read and understood it.

  5. Read the rest of the Exercises in this assignment. Think about them. Be prepared to ask about them in class on Thursday.
Building on skills/ideas from the first two classes. .

Read the notes about the exercises at the bottom of page 9 of the text. Typed homework is easier for me to read than handwritten, but it's annoying and time consuming for you to type mathematics. That said, most of what you will write should be words. You can type those and leave blank spaces in your document, print it and fill in the mathematical parts by hand.

If necessary, I will accept neat handwritten answers. Use just one side of the paper, and leave lots of space for me to write comments.

I will not read scribbled first drafts torn from your notebook just before class.

  1. Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.13.

  2. Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.44. (We worked on this in class, so you should be able to write a nice answer.)

  3. Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.2.

  4. Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.15.

  5. Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.24.

  6. Find an article in the news with some big interesting numbers in it. Think about those numbers as a Fermi problem -- make sense of them, make sure they fit together, see if they are reasonable. Your answer should say exactly where the article comes from, and also provide a direct quote long enough so that I can understand your work without having to look up the original. The article you find must be from the print media, not the web (although you may use an on line version of an article if the original appeared in print).