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.
carefully and follow them carefully!
Parts 1-5 are due Thursday September 10, at the beginning of class.
The rest is due Tuesday, September 15, at the beginning of class.
Your answers to parts 2 and 3
must be typed and clearly labelled on the first page with
your name, the course name, the assignment number and the date.
Staple the pages together. Just in case they come apart, number the
pages and make sure your name appears on each one.
Proofread carefully! Use the spelling and grammar
checker in your word processor (it's not always right, but it is very
helpful). Ask a friend or classmate to proofread too.
Keep a copy of your work. I have been known to misplace papers!
You cannot submit homework as an email attachment. I need hard copy.
Building on skills/ideas from the first two classes.
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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The subject line should look like this:
Subject: Math 114Q [fill in your full name]
- 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.
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.
- What numbers do you pay attention to when you see them?
(tuition costs, sports statistics, stock reports, credit card interest
charges, tax rates, speed limits, gas prices, efficiency ratings of
appliances and light bulbs, ... none?)
- What numbers do you ignore when you see them?
- How much mathematics have you studied in school?
- Have you ever used mathematics other than in school work?
- Do you enjoy math? Hate it? Tolerate it?
- What are your fondest hopes for this course? Your worst fears?
- How might quantitative reasoning fit (or not fit!) into any long
range school or career or life plans you have?
Your computer background.
Write a few paragraphs describing your experiences using a
computer. Here are questions (like those in Part 2 above) you might
- How often do you use a computer?
- What do you do with a computer? email? Surf the internet? Play
games? Write papers? Use a spreadsheet? Manage digital photos? Listen
- Where do you use a computer? Whose computer is it? What kind?
How old is it?
What software does it run?
- Will you bring your computer to class? Could you if necessary?
- Are you a good touch typist or do you hunt and peck?
- Do you enjoy computer work? Do you find it annoying and
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.
Read the rest of the Exercises in this assignment. Think about
them. Be prepared to ask about them in class on Thursday.
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.
- Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.13.
- Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.44. (We worked
on this in class, so you should be able to write a nice answer.)
- Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.2.
- Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.15.
- Common Sense Mathematics, Exercise 1.8.24.
- 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
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).