MATH 525
Spring 2016

TR 2:003:15
Harris 4145

Virginia Commonwealth University

  Richard Hammack Office: Harris Hall 4166
  Work: 804-828-6237
Office hours:
  Home: 804-355-3963
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30–10:30, Wednesday, 12:00–1:30
and by appointment.
  Web page:


TEXTBOOK: Introductory Combinatorics, Third Edition, by Richard Brualdi, ISBN: 0-13-181488-5
  Combinatorics is the mathematics of counting and enumeration. It is typically concerned with finite or discrete mathematical structures (unlike calculus, which deals with the infinite). This class is an introduction to some of the main ideas of combinatorics: counting methods, binomial theorems, permutations and combinations, recurrence relations, generating functions, and basic graph theory.

This course assumes that you have a solid working knowledge of the topics in VCU's MATH 300, including sets, set operations, logic, methods of proof (including induction), methods of disproof, relations and functions.

Your grade will be determined by two tests, weekly homework assignments and a final exam. Details follow.

  • Tests: There are two tests, each closed book. Tests are written under the assumption that you are studying the material AT LEAST 6 hours per week outside of class.
  • Assignments: Weekly written assignments are collected, graded and returned.
    • Papers are collected at the beginning of class on appointed days.
    • Papers submitted after the beginning of class may not be graded.
    • If you must miss class when an assignment is due, please give it to me early or have a classmate turn it in for you.
    • You may email an assignment to me, but it must arrive in my inbox no later than the beginning of class on the day it is due. I sometimes don't print emailed assignments, so you may not get any written feedback from me. If the scan or photo is of poor quality I will not be able to grade it.
    • Exceptionally sloppy or disorganized work is not graded.
    • I encourage you to work together, though the work you turn in must be your own.
    • Resist the temptation to hunt for solutions on line. I do not grade work that I recognize as copied.
    • In addition to the work you hand in, you should work lots of extra problems for practice.
    • Some assigned problems are intended to make you think about ideas not discussed in class.
  • Final Exam: The final exam is cumulative, covering all material discussed in class. It is scheduled for Thursday May 12, 8:00–10:50 am, in our usual classroom. The exam is written under the assumption that you have been studying the material AT LEAST 6 hours per week outside of class for the entire semester.
  • Dropped Scores: A small number of low homework grades will be dropped.

The 10-point grading scale is used:

A: 90100
B: 8089
C: 7079
D: 6069
F: 059
Your final average will be computed as follows:

Test 1: 25%
Test 2: 25%
Final Exam grade: 25%
Total: 100%

  • Attendance: Attendance is not taken. You are responsible for all material covered in class.
  • Etiquette: Put away all phones for the entire duration of class. Please do not text in class or leave to take a call. You are expected to be connected with the course and course material. All devices not related to coursework (iPods, laptops, etc.) are to be turned off and put away for the entire duration of class.
  • Make-up work: A make-up test can be arranged in the event of a documented illness or emergency. The final exam cannot be given early. If you miss the final exam because of a documented illness or emergency, then I can give you a grade of incomplete (I) for the course and you will have to make up the final exam by the date set by the University.
  • Honor System: Any instance of cheating on tests and exams is considered an honor offence and is dealt with according to University policy.
  • You are expected to work lots of extra problems for practice.

BOILERPLATE INFORMATION: The following is required on all VCU syllabi:
  • Email Policy
    Electronic mail or "email" is considered an official method for communication at VCU because it delivers information in a convenient, timely, cost effective and environmentally aware manner. Students are expected to check their official VCU e-mail on a frequent and consistent basis in order to remain informed of university-related communications. The University recommends checking e-mail daily. Students are responsible for the consequences of not reading, in a timely fashion, university-related communications sent to their official VCU student e-mail account. This policy ensures that all students have access to this important form of communication. It ensures students can be reached through a standardized channel by faculty and other staff of the university as needed. Mail sent to the VCU email address may include notification of university-related actions, including disciplinary action. Please read the policy in its entirety:
  • ://

  • University Counseling Services:
  • VCU Honor System: Upholding Academic Integrity
    The VCU honor system policy describes the responsibilities of students, faculty and administration in upholding academic integrity, while at the same time respecting the rights of individuals to the due process offered by administrative hearings and appeals. According to this policy, "members of the academic community are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity." Also, "All members of the VCU community are presumed to have an understanding of the VCU Honor System and are required to:
    Agree to be bound by the Honor System policy and its procedures;
    Report suspicion or knowledge of possible violations of the Honor System;
    Support an environment that reflects a commitment to academic integrity;
    Answer truthfully when called upon to do so regarding Honor System cases; and,
    Maintain confidentiality regarding specific information in Honor System cases."
    The Honor System in its entirety can be reviewed on the Web at or it can be found in the current issue of the VCU Insider at

  • Student Conduct in the Classroom
    According to the Faculty Guide to Student Conduct in Instructional Settings "The university is a community of learners. Students, as well as faculty, have a responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment that supports effective instruction. In order for faculty members (including graduate teaching assistants) to provide and students to receive effective instruction in classrooms, laboratories, studios, online courses, and other learning areas, the university expects students to conduct themselves in an orderly and cooperative manner." Among other things, cell phones and beepers should be turned off while in the classroom. Also, the university Rules and Procedures prohibit anyone from having "in his possession any firearm, other weapon, or explosive, regardless of whether a license to possess the same has been issued, without the written authorization of the President of the university..." For more information, visit the VCU Insider online at
  • Students with Disabilities
    SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended, require that VCU provides "academic adjustments " or "reasonable accommodations" to any student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. To receive accommodations, students must request them by contacting the Disability Support Services Office on the Monroe Park Campus (828-2253) or the Division for Academic Success on the MCV campus (828-9782). More information is available at the Disability Support Services webpage: ; or the Division for Academic Success webpage at If you have a disability that requires an academic accommodation, please schedule a meeting with me at your earliest convenience.
  • Excused Absences for Students Representing the University
    Students who represent the university (athletes and others) do not choose their schedules. Student athletes are required to attend games and/or meets. All student athletes should provide their schedule to the instructor at the beginning of the semester. The Intercollegiate Athletic Council (IAC) strongly encourages faculty to treat missed classes or exams (because of a scheduling conflict) as excused absences and urges faculty to work with the students to make up the work or exam.
  • Class Registration Required for Attendance
    Please remember that students may only attend those classes for which they have registered. Faculty may not add students to class rosters. Therefore, if students are attending a class for which they have not registered, they must stop attending.