Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning
MATH 300
Virginia Commonwealth University

Spring 2012
TR 9:3010:45
Harris Hall 2132

Instructor: Richard Hammack
Office hours:
Office: Harris Hall 4105
Monday, Tuesday 12:00–1:00
Work: 828-6237
Wednesday, Thursday 11:00–12:00
Home: 353-8572
and by appointment
E-mail: rhammack @ vcu . edu

Prerequisite: MATH 201
Text: Book of Proof, By Richard Hammack

This class is an introduction to methods of reasoning used in advanced mathematics. It will probably be a turning point in your mathematical education. In your prior mathematics courses you were primarily concerned with finding solutions to computational problems. MATH 300 is more theoretical. It is concerned with the methods of verifying (proving) whether mathematical statements are true or false. This demands lots of thought, work and writing from you.

You are expected to keep up with the reading. There are frequent written assignments, two tests, and a final exam. Your grade is determined by scores on assignments, exams and participation. Details follow.

Assignments: 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.
  • Exceptionally sloppy work is not graded.
  • I expect compete sentences (when appropriate) and good English usage. Points may be deducted for bad style.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tests: There are two tests, scheduled for March 6 and April 10. Use of calculators is not allowed during tests. In writing the tests, I assume that you have been studying the material at least 6 hours per week outside of class.

Participation: Participation means that you in some way demonstrate intellectual involvement in the course. It does not necessarily mean that you ask questions and volunteer answers. Active participation may include your working lots of exercises, taking advantage of office hours, and displaying preparedness, dedication and intellectual curiosity. Things that could cause you to lose participation points include sleeping in class, leaving your cell phone on, texting in class, missing too much class, and rude behavior. (Not that I expect you would do any of these things!)

Final Exam: The final exam is comprehensive, covering all material discussed in class. It is closed-book and closed-notes. It is scheduled for 1:00–3:50 PM on Thursday May 3. In writing the final exam, I will assume that you have been studying the material at least 6 hours per week outside of class, throughout the entire semester.

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:

Assignments: 25%
Highest Test Grade: 35%
Participation: 5%
Final Exam: 35%

Total: 100%


Attendance: I do not take attendance, but I do notice if you are not attending class. If your grades are high, I do not mind if you miss class occasionally; otherwise, excessive absences may result in a reduced participation score.

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.

Make-up Work:
Under normal circumstances I do not make a distinction between excused and unexcused absences. An absence of any type can impact your performance. I do not give makeup tests, nor do I accept late homework. I will drop your lowest test grade and several low homework grades. If you miss one test, then that counts as the dropped grade. If you miss the final exam for a legitimate reason (i.e. a documented illness or emergency) then I can give you a grade of Incomplete (I) for the course, and you will need to make up the missed exam.

Information about this course is posted on my web page (not on Blackboard). Go to and click on "Spring 2012 Schedule," then "Math 300." There you will find the syllabus, assignments, copies of old tests, and other materials. Solutions for all graded work (assignments and tests) will be posted after the 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, BlackBerries and laptops) are turned off and stowed away 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 very difficult once you get behind, so let me know as soon as you think there is a problem.

Exercises: For each section we cover, you should work as many of the exercises as possible for practice. Answers or hints are provided for many odd-numbered exercises. Some of these problems will be used for the tests and final exam. Keep in mind that there can be many correct approaches for some proof-oriented questions, so the fact that your answer does not match mine does not necessarily mean it is wrong. Ask me if you are ever unsure about the validity of your solution.

Last day to withdraw
: March 23

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: