MATH 123 (5 week course, 1 credit)
Virginia Commonwealth University

November 4 December 4, 2014
TR 11:0012:15
Harris Hall 2128

Instructor: Richard Hammack
Work: 828-6237
Office: Harris 4146
Fax: 828-8785
Office hours:
Home: 355-3963 Tues. 10:00–10:45 and 1:30–2:30
E-mail: rhammack @ vcu . edu Thurs. 10:00–10:45
Web page:
and by appointment

Prerequisite: This course is open only to students in VCU's School of the Arts

Throughout history there has been an interconnection between mathematics and the visual arts. Various mathematical ideas have intrigued artists and have found expression in their work. Conversely, mathematicians have been inspired by visual imagery. For example, linear perspective has been a major force in painting for centuries and led to the mathematical theory of projective geometry. More recently, the mathematical concepts of the fourth dimension and relativity have figured in the theoretical underpinnings of many 20th century art movements. This class will examine some of the ways that art and math have influenced each other.

Your grade is determined by a short paper, a final project and attendance/engagement. Details follow.

Short paper: Write a short (one or two pages) paper on an art work that uses mathematical ideas.

Project: Create an art object that demonstrates a mathematical idea. You may use any reasonable media. Everyone will present their work in a critique on the last day of class. Grades are based on depth of mathematical content, quality of execution and originality.

Attendance/engagement: You are expected to attend and be intellectually engaged in each class. You can earn a total of 20 points for Attendance/engagement. If you have only one absence, it will not be counted against you. Otherwise, each additional absence results in 5 points deducted from the 20 points. Under normal circumstances I do not make the distinction between excused and unexcused absences. Any kind of absence may potentially affect your grade. Being in class physically but tuned out mentally can count as an absence! If you appear to be asleep, I will consider you as absent. Other things that could cause you to lose participation points include leaving your cell phone on, texting in class, and other rude behaviors. (Not that I expect you would do any of these things!)

As a matter of courtesy, you should arrive punctually and stay for the entire duration of each class you attend. Please inform me ahead of time if you must leave early.

At the beginning of each class I will take attendance by circulating a sign-up sheet. If you arrive after this happens, it will be counted as an absence. Signing the roll sheet for anyone other than yourself is considered an honor offense.

Late Work . If you must miss class on day an assignment is due, please give it to me early (in person or by email) or have a classmate turn it in for you. If you turn in an assignment late, then I will take it but I will not grade it immediately. At the end of the course I will evaluate late work, though it may earn no more than half credit.

Your final average will be computed as follows:

Paper: 40%
Final project: 40%
Attendance/engagement: 20%

Total: 100%

The 10-point grading scale is used:

A: 90100
B: 8089
C: 7079
D: 6069
F: 059

All work submitted for a grade in this course should be yours and yours alone. Occasional exceptions are made for cases in which you use another artist's work in a creative or constructive way, leading to a wholly new artwork. If you do use another artist's work, you must clearly state your sources. Anything else is considered plagiarism and it will be dealt with according to university policy.

Information about this course is posted on my web page (not on Blackboard). Go to and click on "Schedule" and then "Math 123." There you will find the syllabus, paper details, a calendar and homework due dates.

Email: Any email correspondence concerning this course should be through your official VCU email address. University policy prevents me from discussing many aspects of the course through other email addresses. I may send email messages either to the whole class or individuals in the class. It is your responsibility to check your VCU email regularly.

Cell Phones: Please be sure that all cell phones and other electronic devices (including iPods, laptops, etc.) are turned off for the entire duration of each class. Leaving such devices on may lower your participation score.

Office: Please feel free to stop by my office whenever you have a question, or if you just want to chat. If my posted hours are inconvenient, I will be happy to schedule an appointment. Tell me if you are having trouble. Catching up can be difficult if you get behind, so let me know as soon as you think there is a problem.

The following information is required on all VCU syllabi:

Accommodations: Any student eligible for and needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability should contact me within the first week of class. The VCU Disability Support Services web site is

VCU Honor System:  All VCU students are presumed upon enrollment to have acquainted themselves with and have an understanding of the Honor System. Therefore, it is a student's responsibility to ask course instructors to clarify expectations for each assignment in order to be in compliance with the Honor System. The 2007 - 8 VCU Honor System policy statement and purpose is located at

Classroom Conduct: Professional conduct will be expected at all times.  A description of the VCU Student Conduct in Instructional Settings Policy can be found at:

VCU Statement on Safety  You can sign up to receive VCU text messaging alerts (  Keep your information up-to-date. Know the safe evacuation route from each of your classrooms. Emergency evacuation routes are posted in on campus classrooms.  Listen for and follow instructions from VCU or other designated authorities. Know where to go for additional emergency information (  Know the emergency phone number for the VCU Police (828-1234). Report suspicious activities and objects. University Counseling Services: