University of Connecticut College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Mathematics
Tom Roby's Math 200/201 Home Page (Spring'08) Undergraduate Seminars I and II

Questions or Comments?

Class Information

COORDINATES: Classes meet usually Wed. (occasionally Mon.) 5:30-6:30 in MSB 319. The registrar calls these Sec. 001, #7751 (Math 200) or Sec. 2, #7487 (Math 201W).

PREREQUISITES: Math 210 (or 220,230 or 245) and Math 211 (or 221 or 246). Open to sophomores or higher.

TEXT: There is no textbook for this class. You may find useful some of the web resources listed below.

WEB RESOURCES: The homepage for this course is

GRADING: Your grade will be based on your paper; you must also attend a minimum of seven mathclub talks to receive credit.

PURPOSE: This purpose of Math 200-201 is to learn how to research and write a technical paper in mathematics. In each of these classes you will write a paper at least 7.5 pages long (single-spaced, 1in. margins, font size no larger than 12pt).

SCHEDULE: You are required to attend at least seven of the mathclub talks over the course of the semester. You will write your paper based on one of these according to the following schedule. The intermediate deadlines for Math 201 are offset one week from those for Math 200, in order to spread out my workload.

  • Make an appointment to meet with me for twenty minutes sometime within the first three weeks of the term;
  • Hand in an outline of your talk by Wed. Mar 19 (Math 200); Mar 26th (Math 201);
  • Hand in a first draft to me by Wed. Apr 2 (Math 200); Apr. 9th (Math 201);
  • Final papers are due Fri 5/2 (Last day of classes).

DISABILITIES If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, or if you would need assistance in the event of an emergency, please contact me as soon as possible.

Here are some course materials (prepared by Keith Conrad and Jesse Ratzkin) to get you started:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which lecture should I write about?
    Write about one of the lectures whose topic you find interesting. Because of your time constraints, it helps to write about one of the earlier lectures. If you're having trouble picking a topic, please come see me.
  • Do I have to attend lectures other than the one I'm writing about?
    Yes, you MUST attend at least 7 of the lectures. Make sure you write your name on the sign-up sheet circulated at the lecture. Coming late or leaving early counts as at least half an absence.
  • Do I have to write about the exact topic of the lecture?
    No, you can write about something tangentially related. For instance, a lecture about surface geometry may only mention geodesics (these are locally length-minimizing paths), and their mention gives you license to write an entire eight page paper about them.
  • Does this paper need to have math in it?
    Absolutely, yes. Your paper must include technical mathematics. Explain at least one general result and give several examples. Define your terms carefully.
  • How much explanation should my paper give?
    Try handing the paper to a friend interested in math who doesn't specifically know the subject you're writing about. This person should be able to read and understand your paper.
  • What is a good place to look for references?
    Try looking at the library, MathSciNet, JSTOR, arXiv, Google Scholar, or ask me, other faculty, students, or a librarian.
  • What format should I use?
    The main text must be typeset, rather than handwritten, even if you have nice handwriting. You can use any word processing or typesetting program you wish; however, modern mathematical writing is mostly done in various dialects of very high-quality typesetting program called TeX, especially LaTeX. (Pronunciation of this name is the subject of some discussion.) There are some links above to latex guides, writing style guides, and a LaTeX template.
Let me know if you have further questions.

Interesting Links

  • Maybe I'll add some later.


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