Math. Dept. Office: DRL 4W1, Ext. 8-8178.

Math. Dept. Undergraduate Program Information

- If one knows the outcome of a medical test, what is the probability the answer is actually correct?
- How can we correctly update our prior estimates on the probabilities of various events based on new information?
- What degree of social distancing is needed from different parts of the population is needed in order to change the extinguish a pandemic? How can people gauge their own success in achieving this?
- How do mathematical models of an epidemic actually work?
- What is the physics behind person-to-person transmission of various kinds of diseases? What does this say about how to avoid such transmission?

- On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt,
Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-691-12294-6. This book is available
from Amazon.
- This book gives a careful philosophical analysis of bullshit. The main distinction Frankfurt draws between lying and bullshit is that liars know the truth and are concerned that their listeners believe something false. Bullshitters are much less concerned with the truth value of what they are saying, or that their listeners literally believe them. They are instead focused on bringing about some other reaction in their listeners, e.g. that the listener will support them in some way. This book has many useful insights, and a good college education should include developing the ability to recognize and classify bullshit. Developing a mathematical theory to go along with Frankfurt's philosophical approach is a main goal of this course. In particular, mathematical game theory will help answer Frankfurt's question about why there is so much bullshit in our culture.
- How math can save your life by James Stein, John Wiley and Sons, 2010.
ISBN 978-0-470-43775-9. This book is available from
Amazon.
- Stein's book gives a better introduction to game theory than many textbooks, and it is written in a far more interesting way. The book includes many amusing topics, and is an excellent example of how with a little imagination one can view many real life situations in a mathematical way.
- For All Practical Purposes
W. H. Freeman, U.S.A.. ISBN: 1-4292-0900-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-429-20900-7.
- This book is available: from Amazon It's not necessary to obtain access to the online materials connected with this book. As far as I can tell, the later editions of the book do not really add value, and cost much more.
- Probability and Statistics 4th Edition
Addison Wesley, U.S.A., ISBN: 978-0-321-50046-5. Authors: Morris H. DeGroot and Mark J. Schervish
- This book gives an exceptionally clear description of basic probability theory and statistics. I recommend googling "deGroot statistics" in order to find various options for obtaining this book.

- Before class, please look a the video that will be posted for the lecture that day on the Course Schedule page. It will be very helpful if you note down any questions you have about the video before we meet online to discuss it.
- The main tool we will be using for online classes is Zoom. You can obtain a free copy of this by clicking on this link and downloading the appropriate version for your browser and-or phone. We will be meeting in two groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first group consists of all people in class whose last names begin with Aa through Ol. I will send an e-mail invitation to the first group a little before 1:30 p.m., and we will discuss the day's topics till a little before 2:15. I will then send an e-mail to the second group consisting of people whose last names begin with Or through Zz. I will send an invitation to the second group a little before 2:15 p.m. and we will continue through 3:00 p.m..
- A backup application we will use is Skype in the event that there are problems with Zoom.

Last updated: 3/22/20

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