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This subject offers an introduction to Discrete Mathematics oriented toward Computer Science and Engineering. There are two class sessions this fall:
The subject coverage divides into three parts:
The prerequisite is 18.01 (first term calculus), in particular, some familiarity with sequences and series, limits, and differentiation and integration of functions of one variable.
Considerations for Taking the Subject This TermThere are two main considerations for students in deciding to take 6.042J/18.062J this term or at all.
The class has a comprehensive web site (you're looking at it now):
Notes, problem sets, solutions, etc., will be posted on the course main page. Other course information such as staff contact information, mailing lists, and announcements are also available on this website. It is always worth checking the website for corrections and announcements before starting problem sets.
Problem Sets are normally due 15 minutes before Friday class. Each problem must be fastened and submitted separately. See the detailed problem set submission instructions.
Making a reasonable effort on the problem sets is, for most students, crucial for mastering the course material. Solutions to the problem sets will be posted immediately after the due date. Consequently, late problem sets will not be accepted. The guidelines for a good solution are similar to those for class problems: a smart, prepared student who didn't see right away how to solve the problem should be able to read your answer and promptly see how to go about solving the problem themselves. If you cannot solve a problem in a reasonable time, don't lose sleep over it: you will get useful credit for explaining where and how you got stuck.
Problem sets count for 25% of the final grade. To reduce problem sets as a source of pressure, and as a reflection of their intended educational role, missed credit on a pset (up to 50%) automatically shifts to the midterm or final, whichever occurs first after the pset due date. For example,
If a student missed 4 points on a 10 point pset due before the midterm, then 40% of the weight of that pset gets added to the weight of their midterm.
Aiming for half credit on problem sets with the intention of making up the missing half on subsequent exams is a risky strategy, especially since grades on exams tend to be lower than on problem sets.
Students are encouraged to collaborate on problem sets as on teams in class, though we strongly suggest you attempt each problem on your own before talking it over with your friends, classmates, or TA. The last page of each problem set has a collaboration statement to be completed and attached as the first page of a pset submission:
No problem set will be given credit until it has a collaboration statement.
Graders' time is limited, and when in doubt about an unclear student solution, they are instructed to deny credit. If you are concerned that your problem set has been graded incorrectly, talk to your LA or TA after class. If you are not satisfied with their response, the lecturers will be happy to hear an appeal.
Online Tutor ProblemsThere are weekly Online Tutor problems due before class on specified dates. These consist of straightforward questions that provide useful feedback about the assigned material. Tutor problems should take about 20 minutes after the reading has been completed. (Some students prefer to try the tutor problems before doing the reading, which is fine.)
Like team problem-solving in class, online tutor problems are graded solely on participation: students receive full credit as long as they try the problem, even if their answer is wrong. Tutor problems count for 5% of the final grade.NB annotation system, a collaborative annotation system designed for questions and discussions. NB is intended for comments or questions about the course text that may be of interest to other classmates or staff.
Students are encouraged to use NB as their first source for questions relating to the class text, but not class problems or problems sets, though these are also available for comment in NB.
For the first half of the term, students were expected to participate in the commentary on the class materials with reasonable regularity throughout the term. NB comments were made optional on April 2, and do not affect grades after that date.
2.5% of the final grade is determined by participation in NB discussions prior to April 2, including responding to other peoples' questions, pointing out spelling and grammar errors, or suggesting on how a passage can be improved. Comments made at any time on a chapter of the text are valuable, but comments made before a chapter is covered in class are more valuable. Being among the first to report a typo or mistake in the text is considered a worthy contribution at any time.
Collaboration and Outside Sources
We encourage students to collaborate on homework as on in-class problems. Study groups can be a big help in mastering course material, besides being fun and a good way to make friends. However, students must write up solutions on their own, neither copying solutions nor providing solutions to be copied. All collaborators must be cited, and if a source beyond the course materials is used in a solution for example, an "expert" consultant other than 6.042 staff, or another text there must be a proper scholarly citation of the source.
Subject materials are available on OCW for Fall '10, Spring '10, Fall '05, and Spring '05. Problem solutions are mostly omitted from the Spring '10 and Fall '10 materials. A problem from these prior terms may occasionally be assigned again without change. If a student looks at the published solution, he or she should cite it, and may not simply copy the published solution. Instead, a critique of the published solution or an improved version should be submitted instead.
We discourage, but do not forbid, use of materials from prior terms other than those available on OCW. We repeat, however, that use of material from any previous term requires a proper scholarly citation. As long as a student provides accurate citation and collaboration statements, a questionable submission will rarely be sanctioned instead, we'll explain why we judge the submission unsatisfactory (and maybe deny credit for a specific, clearly copied solution). But omission of such a citation will be taken as a priori evidence of cheating, with unpleasant consequences for everyone.
Weekly MiniquizzesA 15 minute Miniquiz will be given in class most Mondays. You are allowed to use a one-sided crib sheet during the quiz. Miniquizzes count for a total of 10% of the final grade.
Material to study for a miniquiz is very well defined: a miniquiz will cover only the material in problems assigned for the previous week. Miniquiz questions are often simply some parts of these online, class, and/or pset problems. Students can prepare for a miniquiz simply by reviewing the posted problem solutions for the previous week.
Midterm ExamInstead of a miniquiz, a one-hour exam covering all previous weeks will be given in class on Monday, March 19. A two-sided crib sheet is allowed for the midterm. The midterm exam will count for a total of 10% of the final grade.
MicroquizzesStarting after April 2, a 1－2 minute microquiz will be given at the beginning of every class unless there is already a miniquiz. These will consist of one or two very short straightforward questions about topics found in the readings for that class. The microquizzes overall will count for 2.5% of the final grade.
To write your microquiz solutions, you are expected to bring a piece of paper (8.5 x 11in) and a pen to class. Microquizzes will be closed book; no cribsheets. You may fill out your name, session time (11AM or 1PM), and heading "Micro-quiz (month day), 2012" in advance.
You can try to make up for a missed or poor microquiz grade by proposing a really good new micro-quiz or mini-quiz question on the same or a subsequent topic and sending it to 6042-staff(at)csail.mit.edu. The bar for makeup credit will be set high, so don't count on this as a backup for being unprepared.
FinalThere will be a standard 3-hour final exam on Wednesday, May 23, 1:30-4:30 in 34-101. You are allowed to bring two front and back crib sheet (4 sides) for the final. This exam is worth 25% of the final course grade.
GradesThe lowest miniquiz score, lowest problem set score, and lowest three team problem-solving scores will not count in grade calculation. This effectively gives everyone a miniquiz, problem set, and 3 team problem-solving sessions they can miss without excuse or penalty.
Grades for the course will be based on the following weighting:
Note that missed credit (up to a cap of 50%) on problem sets spills over as increased weight of the midterm & final, as explained in the Problem Sets section above.
Questions, Suggestions, and Complaints to the StaffEmail can be sent to the staff or to individual staff members using the addresses on the staff contact page.