Course Information, Math 464, Introduction to Probability, Spring 2020

Instructor: Doug Pickrell

Office: Mathematics 703

Office Phone: 621-4767


Recommended Text: Probability - An Introduction by G. Grimmett and D. Welsh (Either edition is okay). This is available online through the library. There are a number of free online resources which cover essentially the same material.

Course Objectives: We will cover the basic definitions, examples, and theorems (through the law of large numbers and the central limit theorem) of basic probability. Students who are successful in the class will be prepared to go on to statistics (466) and stochastic processes (468).

More About the course: We will aim to cover basically all of chapters 1-8 of the text. The prerequites for the first half of the course, on discrete probability, are minimal: set theory, some familiarity with power series from second semester calculus. The second half of the course, on continuous probability, will be calculus intensive. Knowledge of vector calculus will be important.

Office Hours: Tu 11-12, W 12-1 and Th 11-12 (in math tutoring room M220), W 11-12. I am usually in my office 4:15-5 on W, and you can always make an appointment (best to use email)

Homework: Doing the homework well and on a regular basis is critical in this course. The standard rule of thumb is that you should spend two hours studying outside of class for each hour of classwork. I will email the homework assignments directly to you (It is essential that I have your email address). I will email solutions for most of the problems on the due date (hence late homeworks are not accepted). The problems on the midterms and final exams will mimic those on the homework.

Midterms: There will be two midterms. The dates of each midterm, and the material to be covered on each midterm, will be announced at least one week in advance in class and by email (see the tentative schedule below). You must notify me in advance if for some (good) reason you are not able to attend a test; in this event, we will mutually arrange for a makeup in a timely manner (before I send out solutions), or some other method of evaluating your performance in the class.

Final Exam: The final exam is scheduled for Tu, May 12, 8-10 am.

Grades: I will calculate grades in the following way. I will first compute a total test score, based exclusively upon the midterms and the final exam. Each midterm will count for 25%, and the final exam will count for 50%, toward the total test score. I will use the total test scores to linearly order the class, and attempt to determine clear cutoffs for grades. Your final grade will be at least as high as that determined by this first calculation. I will secondly calculate a total score, based on homework, midterms and the final exam. The homework will count for 20%, each midterm will count for 20%, and the final will count for 40%. I will then linearly order the class, using this second calculation, and attempt to determine clear cutoffs (Generally the second calculation yields higher grades, so it is in your interest to do the homework). If I cannot resolve a borderline grade using either of these two calculations, I will look at the student's test trend and effort on the homework.

Tentative Class Schedule/Due Dates:

Week 2: hw1 due Th 1/23/2020

Week 3: hw2 due Th 1/30

Week 4: hw3 due Th 2/6

Week 5: hw4 due Th 2/13

Week 6: Midterm 1, Th 2/20

Week 7 No homework

Week 8: hw5 due Th 3/5

Week 9: Spring break 3/7-3/15

Week 10: hw6 due Th 3/19

Week 11: hw7 due 3/26

Week 12: hw8 due 4/2

Week 13 midterm 2, Th 4/9

Week 14: no homework

Week 15: hw 9 due Th 4/23

Week 16: hw 10 due Th 4/30

Week 17: review for final, last class 5/5

Final Exam (comprehensive), Tu 5/12/2020, 8-10 am

Standard University/Course Policies:

Attendance: Students are expected to attend every scheduled class. • The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at: • The UA’s policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable. See: • Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean Designee) will be honored. See:

Classroom Behavior: To foster a positive learning environment, students and instructors have a shared responsibility. We want a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment where all of us feel comfortable with each other and where we can challenge ourselves to succeed. To that end, our focus is on the tasks at hand and not on extraneous activities (texting, chatting, reading a newspaper, making phone calls, web surfing).

Communication: It is the student’s responsibility to keep informed of any announcements, syllabus adjustments or policy changes made during scheduled classes, by email.

Students with disabilities: Our goal in this classroom is that learning experiences be as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. You are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations. For additional information on the Disability Resource Center and reasonable accommodations, please visit If you have reasonable accommodations, please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate. Please be aware that the accessible table and chairs in this room should remain available for students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable.

Students withdrawing from the course: Must be made in accordance with University policy

Incompletes: Must be made in accordance with University policies, which are available at

University Policies: • The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See • Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See: • The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination; see

Note: Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.