Probability (FA19)

My Contact Info


Name: Erik Slivken
Office: Kemeny 334
Lectures: MWF 12:50-1:55pm
X-hour: T 1:20-2:10pm
Lecture Room: Kemeny 008
Office Hours: M 2:00-3:00pm
Th 2:00-3:00pm
F by appointment (after class) 


Weekly Schedule

Upcoming topics and past schedules can be found here

Course Description

The world is filled with unpredictable events. Probability helps us build models that reflect this randomness. This course will serve as an introduction to the foundations of probability theory. Topics covered will include some of the following: discrete and continuous random variables, random vectors, multivariate distributions, expectations; independence, conditioning, conditional distributions and expectations; strong law of large numbers and the central limit theorem; random walks and Markov chains.

There is an honors version of this course: see MATH 60.


We will use the following material.  Both are filled with nice exercises with a free PDF version available.  

1. Introduction to Probability, by Grinstead and Snell.

2. Lecture Notes to Introductory Probability, by Janko Gravner.    


Both are useful.  The first book has a number of simulation exercises if you like programming.  The lecture notes follows more closely to how material will be presented for this course.    

Writing Mathematics

In addition to learning probability theory, a core goal of this course is to help students learn to read and write mathematics. We’ll spend time in class discussing how to articulate rigorous mathematical arguments in a clear and convincing way. On homework assignments, a portion of the grade will be based on the quality of exposition.


We will use the X-hour occasionally throughout the quarter, so be sure not to schedule anything during that time (time/date).  Midterms will occur during X-hour on the appropriates dates


Homework will be assigned each Wednesday and due the following Wednesday. There will be a total of eight homework assignments. Unexcused late assignments will not be accepted.

Homework Collaboration Policy

It can be very helpful to study and work with a group. This type of cooperative learning is encouraged; however, be sure that you have a thorough understanding of the concepts as well as the mathematical steps used to solve a problem. You must be able to work through the problems on your own. Each student must complete her or his assignment individually and independently and must turn in their own work.

On each homework assignment, you must list any resources you used to help you complete the assignment.

This includes other class members with whom you discussed the problems.

Returned Papers

You must retain all returned papers in case of any discrepancy with the recorded grades on Canvas. I cannot correct any mistakes in grading or recording of scores without the original document.  All concerns regarding grades on assignments or exams must be handled within one week of the return of the paper.


There will be two midterm exams and a final exam. The final exam will be cumulative though more weight on the material from the later half of the course.  The dates and locations for the exams will be posted on the course webpage and announced in class.  If you must miss an exam due to a College activity, you must seek approval from me at least two weeks prior to the exam day.

Group Project

Students will be placed in groups early in the term. Each group will be responsible for writing an approximately 5 page paper exploring a topic (to be chosen from a list of suitable topics or proposed by the group). The topic to be explored will be decided in the first few weeks of class. A rough draft will be due before the second midterm, and a final draft will be due in class on Nov. 18, the last day of class. Nov. 13 and Nov. 15 will be reserved for short (8-10 minutes) presentations.

Grading Scheme

Course scores are weighted as follows:

Homework: 20%
Group Project: 20%
Midterm 1: 15%
Midterm 2: 15%
Final 30%


Students with disabilities who will be taking this course and may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. Also, they should stop by the Academic Skills Center in Collis Center to register for support services.

Religious Observances

Some students may wish to take part in religious observances that occur during this academic term. If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due
Public Domain This course content is offered under a Public Domain license. Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.