The main project in MATH 490 is a term paper on a mathematical topic of your choice. In this paper, you will introduce, explain and develop your topic in detail. The paper should have substantial mathematical content, and feature your own explanations and examples. It should be about 15 pages long, double-spaced, including cover sheet and references.

How do you choose a topic? One of the papers you read earlier in the semester may give you an idea for a term paper topic. Or perhaps you have always been interested in a certain branch of mathematics or a particular theorem. The term paper is an ideal method of exploring and learning about it. You are also free to choose a topic that you studied in another class.

My personal feeling is that a term paper should be not so much a report about what you know (or have learned), but an explanation and exposition of what you know. In writing it you should imagine that you are writing a chapter in a textbook: Your job is to explain your topic in a clear, lively, informative and interesting way. Develop it with lots of your own examples. You should assume the reader (me) doesn't know anything about the topic, and your paper should be written in a way that informs and engages him.

It is expected that you will consult and assimilate various sources before beginning your writing. Ideally your paper should list roughly five (ballpark figure) references that you have consulted. Please note that although Wikipedia is a great tool for exploring ideas, it is NOT a valid reference. You may use any reasonable reference style.

You learned how to write a research paper in ENGL 200. Therefore I will not spend any class time discussing the ``how's'' of writing a paper. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Please submit a short one- or two-paragraph proposal to me by Monday, March 2. This is just a rough outline of what you plan to write your paper on. (It's OK if you decide to change your topic later. Just give me a new proposal.) I will return your proposal with comments.
The first draft of your paper is due on April 15. This should be a nearly-complete product. I will read the draft and offer comments and suggestions for changes and additions. (If you did a really good job, I may even may say that no changes are necessary!)
Your completed paper is due on April 27. Please submit your first draft along with your completed paper so that I can compare the two.