Mathematics 564

Theory of Probability

Fall 2009

Course Homepage


Course syllabus.



In the Theory of Probability, we shall be using our previous knowledge of calculus and linear algebra to consider the central issues of the "science of uncertainty". The mathematical development of these ideas are useful in a variety of human endeavors and serve as essential background for productive work in statistics – probability's sister discipline.


Day to Day Operations. 

The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 PM to 3:15 PM in room 240 of the Harvill Building. Our text is Statistical Inference (Second Edition) by George Casella and Roger L. Berger. We will cover most of the material in the first 5 chapters of the textbook plus some supplementary material. A summary of the class notes will be available to the students. The schedule of topics, the class notes and the assignments are given in the course syllabus. We will have an assistant Wenhai Chen for the course. His office hours are 9:00AM to 10:30AM Wednesday and Friday in Math East room 149. In addition, Wenhai will facilitate a problem session form 9:00 to 10:30 AM on Mondays. My office hours are Mondays and Fridays at 1:00 PM and 11:00 Thursdays. The Thursday office hour is held in the upper division tutoring room Math East 145. Feel free to stop by my office, room 522 of the Mathematics building, calling me at 621-5245 or writing me  - jwatkins at


Use of Software.

We will be doing some software computation using R.  R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows and MacOS. To download R, please choose your preferred CRAN mirror. Other options for software assistance can be found on the resource webpage.


Evaluation of Students.

We shall have 2 in-class midterm exams and a comprehensive final exam on Thursday, December 17 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM.


Homework is an essential part of any mathematics course Homework will be collected approximately bi-weekly. The homework grade will be based on the top 6 homework scores. Permisssion to turn in late homework for credit must be arranged in advance. 


The grading scheme is






problem sets




midterm exams








final exam









Grades will be given on the usual scale A is 90%-100%, B is 80%-89%, C is 70%-79%, D is 60%-69%, and E is below 60%. If you fail to complete the course due to circumstances unforeseen, then you may qualify for a grade of I, "incomplete'" if all of the conditions are met:



Students should take the time to become familiar with code of academic integrity.


Best wishes to you for a good semester in this course and in all your other activities.


  - Joe Watkins