MATH 311W: Concepts of Discrete Mathematics

I am Stephen G. Simpson, a Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University.

In Fall 2011 I taught Section 003 of MATH 311W. We met Monday-Wednesday-Friday 1:25-2:15 PM in 115 Osmond.

MATH 311W is a transition course. The transition is from lower-level (100- and 200-level) mathematics courses to higher-level (400- and 500-level) mathematics courses. Therefore, the course includes a writing component. Students are expected to write proofs.


The required textbook is Numbers, Groups & Codes, Second Edition, by J. F. Humphreys and M. Y. Prest, Cambridge University Press, 2004, XVI + 338 pages. My plan is to go through the entire book in order. Grades will be based on homework (40 percent), a midterm exam (25 percent), and a final exam (35 percent).


All homework must be neat and legible, with pages stapled together. When writing proofs, students must use grammatical sentences, and there must be a logical chain of reasoning leading to the desired conclusion.

Some hints and partial solutions for some of the textbook exercises are here.

Term Paper

For extra credit, students may write a term paper on a topic chosen by them and approved by me. The topic should be related to something in the textbook. The term paper should be well-written, neatly typed, and at least 5 to 10 pages long. Term paper proposals are due Friday November 18, the Friday before Fall Break. Term papers are due Friday December 9, the last day of classes. Term paper proposals and term papers are to be submitted electronically.

Office Hours

My office hours for Fall 2011 are:   /   9 December 2011