Precalculus, Math, M-151, Fall 2014
This site updated Nov. 18, 2014
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The will to win is grossly overrated.        
The will to prepare is far more important.
--  Bobby Knight, basketball coach
About the final exam and the new rooms (all rooms are new!).
About Chapter 7, which is a big part of the final exam.
About the results of Exam 3.

About Chapter 7:  Chapter 7 is different. Yes, we are nearing the end of the course, but there is still time for you to learn something new and different. In Chapter 7 you will learn how to derive trig results from simple pictures. You must learn the connections between simple results you know and other, less-familiar, results that can be derived from the things you know. Chapter 7 emphasizes reasoning. You must learn why the results follow from one another and how they connect. There will be a great deal of reasoning required on the final, so learn how it is done.
    Long ago we posted links to on-line trig activities. If you did not do them before, you will find them interesting and valuable for the current material and we strongly recommend you do them now.

Thoughts about Precalculus and Mathematics.  In mathematics, there are some things you simply must memorize. For example, you must memorize the definition of sine. Other things it is better if you understand them. For example, how are sine and cosine related? Both a unit-circle picture and a trig identity should leap to mind. 
    Chapter 7 requires memorization of the definition of the new term radian and some other things, but mostly emphasizes relations between trig functions. Most of these formulas (e.g. area of a sector) and identities (e.g. cos(θ + π/2) = - sin(θ)) are best learned by understanding them. Pictures help.  
    Previous homework has often emphasized doing calculations. Now, Chapter 7 asks you to understand trig identities in the same way that all higher math is understood--with well-known things connected together in a way that allows you to create (derive) and understand new things. We build from what is known to what is not yet known. This procedure is to pervasive in mathematics that much of the goal of Chapter 7 is to get you to be able to string together simple known things in order to derive other things (for example, trig identities).
    Sections 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 give many important examples. Study how they fit and how those same methods can be used to create trig identities on demand, even if you do not memorize them.
 

Your Job.  In Chapter 7, your job is to learn how to derive results that are closely related to things you already know. Use a step by step process.

7.1   Learn that radian measure is defined by s = rθ. Learn how to convert from radians to degrees and vice versa. Learn how to derive the area of a sector. How to derive the arc length when the central angle is given in degrees.

7.2   Learn that angles are regarded as rotations on a unit circle which begin with initial side along the positive x-axis. Two angles are "coterminal" if they terminate at the same point. Therefore, they have the same trig-function values. An angle and its reference angle have the same trig function values, except possibly for the sign (they might have a negative sign). Learn how derive trig identities by representing an angle θ in the first quadrant (not near 45 degrees) and locating the angle in question, say θ+π, and reading the picture for the trig function values of the new angle and how they relate to the trig function values of θ.
        Learn how right triangles can be used to illustrate angles with various trig-function values (given with letters), and can be read, with the help of the Pythagorean Theorem, to yield other trig functions values. So, for example, if sin θ is x/2, we can derive tan θ just by looking at a well-labeled picture.

7.3  Learn about derivation and how complicated formulas can be derived by a sequence of simple steps. In particular, learn how the sum-of-angles trig formulas can be derived from a well-labeled picture (learn Figure 7.3.3), and how the other important trig identities follow step-by-step from them (that is, learn the entire sequence from 7.3.1 through 7.3.5).

(7.4 is interesting, but will not be on the final exam.)

---------------------

Here is the curve for Exam 3, Fall 2014:
85-87  A-;  88-100  A; 
75-77  B-;  78-81  B;  82-84  B+ ; 
60-62  C-;  63-71 C; 72-74  C+ ;    
50-52  D-;  53-56 D; 57-59  D+;
below 50  F

How are you doing?  Add your three exam scores (Don't average them). If your quizzes are comparable and your homework has been handed in regularly, if the total is
at least 245 of 300, you are on track for at least an A-
at least 215, you are on track for at least a B-
at least 170, you are on track for at least a C-
at least 135, you are on track for at least a D-
  134 or below, you are on track for an F.

If you have handed in almost all the homework on time, you may get a notch higher. Often a good homework number raises, say, a C to C+.

There are 200 points on the final, and they can make a big difference, but it is not common for students to do much better on the final than on the first three exams. However, it does happen and some students "get it together" and do much better on the final, in which case they are rewarded with a better grade. On the other hand, some students fail to retain what they learned for earlier exams and do worse on the final, which is comprehensive. A poor final can lower your grade a lot. You are expected to remember everything! So, the final can help a lot or hurt a lot.



Final Exam room alert!  6:00-7:50 pm, Wednesday, Dec.10
Exam rooms are different!
class hour (section number) instructor       exam room
8:00 (01) 
  Christopher Ashland     Reid 105        New room!
9:00 (02)    Amelia Warton   
Reid 105        New room!
10:00 (03) and 11:00 (05) Jocelyn Short   Reid 103  [same room as Exam 2, but not Exams 1 or 3]
10:00 (04)  Moses Obiri         Lewis 304   New room! [Do you know where Lewis Hall is?]
12:00 (06)
Kenneth Flagg     Reid 105        New room!
1:10 (08)  Casey Clark      Reid 102        New room!
2:10  (09) Tao Huang    Lewis 304   New room! [Do you know where Lewis Hall is?]
3:10  (10) Jacob Szarzec     Reid 105        New room!

If you claim a time conflict, see here.

Review Sessions.  There will be review sessions [times and rooms to be announced].

Warning:  We spend two full weeks on the three sections of Chapter 7. A lot of the final exam will be on Chapter 7, which it is full of new ideas that you must learn. Please continue to work on Precalculus all the way to the end of the semester. If you don't study Chapter 7 a poor final exam score will result and that will hurt your grade a lot. On the other hand, a good final exam score can help a lot. Take Chapter 7 seriously! (Here is what you need to know from Chapter 7.)


What is going to be on the exam? Old final exams are here.
The final exam has about half its points on trig. Most of the trig is from Chapter 7 (Section 7.3 is on the exam, but not 7.4). You can expect
a multisided figure to solve as in Section 6.4
a derivation from Section 7.1
a derivation from a unit-circle figure as in Section 7.2  (resembling B17-B22)
a derivation from a right-triangle figure as in Section 7.2 (resembling B31-B44)
parts to find in a figure much like Figure 7.3.3
a derivation of one of the results from 7-3-2 through 7-3-5, given the previous results (like on a handout)
a problem of the sort found in 7.3 B4-48 that requires use of a trig identity. (The only trig identities you have to memorize are the Pythagorean Identity and the one for tangent. Any others you might need will be given.)
and more
    [We will have gone over these derivations in class several times. There will have been handouts covering these derivations. Memorize how the derivations go and then you can simply reproduce them on the exam.]

The final exam has about half its points on the algebra from Chapters 1 through 5. You can expect:
problems resembling some of this semester's unit-exam problems that many students missed (Be sure you can do the previous exams from this semester!)
an expression to evaluate (like Section 1.2, B2-16)
a graph to read
lines in point-slope form
distance in a word problem
graphical factoring
percents in a word problem
word problems
an exponential equation to solve
and more

The laws and identities at the top of its trig section will again be there. Formulas from the very top of Spring 2013 and older exams will not be there. You many bring a half-page of notes.



Nov. 3
          Tuesday, Nov. 4 is election day, a holiday with no classes. You can register at the polls. Vote!

Tuesday, Nov. 11 is Veteran's Day, a holiday with no classes. World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918. It was so terrible that mankind hoped it would be "the war to end all wars."  For example, in 1916 the "Battle of the Somme" in France resulted in over one million dead and wounded, and on the single day July 1 the British army suffered 60,000 casualties. US losses in recent wars pale in comparison. Nov. 11 used to be called "Armistice Day" but as memories of WWI faded it became "Veteran's Day." Many people have served in the military and many people have sacrificed to preserve our way of life. We honor them on Veteran's Day.

Exam 3 is Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6:00 pm. If you have a time conflict, see here.
This time you may bring to the exam half a sheet of paper, one side, with notes in your own writing (no photocopies--prepare it yourself).  The exam will resemble old exams.

RoomsMost sections are not in the same room as last time.
Monday-Friday

class hour (section number) instructor       exam room
8:00 (01) 
  Christopher Ashland     Linfield 113       [same room as Exam 1, but not Exam 2]   
9:00 (02)    Amelia Warton    Linfield 125                  
[same room as Exam 1, but not Exam 2]
10:00 (03) and 11:00 (05) Jocelyn Short   Linfield 301        [same room as Exam 1, but not Exam 2]
10:00 (04)  Moses Obiri         Wilson 1-143       [same as last time]
12:00 (06)
Kenneth Flagg     Linfield 125             [same room as Exam 1, but not Exam 2]
1:10 (08)  Casey Clark      Wilson 1-121       [same as last time]
2:10  (09) Tao Huang    Wilson 1-141        [same as last time]
3:10  (10) Jacob Szarzec     Gaines 243               [same room as Exam 1, but not Exam 2]
    Exam day there is no class at the regular time.

Review sessions. For Exam 3 they will be Sunday 4:00-6:00 and Monday 5:00-7:00, two days before the exam and the day before the exam, in Wilson Hall 1-119 and 1-125. Doors to Wilson Hall are regularly locked on Sunday, so come to the Math Learning Center door which we will open. Room 1-119 is on that side of the building. Come prepared to show you have seriously tried the problems you ask about. Asking questions on Monday is not sufficient preparation for a Tuesday exam. Most of your preparation should have been done long before Monday!
    There will be no class at the regular hour on the day of the exam.


If you have an academic time conflict or a disability, see here.

Exam 3 emphasizes 4.5 through 6.4.
    We spent 2 days on 4.5 and 4.6, 5 days on Chapter 5 exponents and logs, and 8 days on Chapter 6 (trig). The exam will reflect that. It is not just a trig exam.
    The trig problems will go rapidly if you have your calculator programmed with the Law of Cosines, two ways.
    There usually are two long problems from 6.4, one of which uses bearing the way we describe it on pages 380ff. If you don't understand bearing, you will lose a significant number of points. Please practice with your calculator a lot so you can do the calculations quickly. We expect you to do calculations with your calculator without writing long Law-of-Cosines equations on the exam page. However, at each stage you must tell us which law you are using.
    There will be a word problem with exponential growth or decay.
    You may create and bring to the exam half a sheet of paper, one side, as notes in your own writing (no photocopies). We will do that for the final exam, too.
    For more about the Chapter 6 material, read the trig part below.



Oct. 27
Most students really like trig and do very well in Chapter 6, triangle-trig. Take this chance to improve your grade and feel good about your math skills by devoting some time to this material.

Information about Trig (for Chapters 6 and 7) Do the on-line trig activities and program your calculator with two versions of the Law of Cosines.

Cool interactive, web-based, activities,
    for learning trigonometry (Chapters 6 and 7)

    Learn and have fun at the same time! 
I searched youtube for trig lessons. Most seemed slow and dull. I did not find an interesting lecture, and most of the lectures are advertising teasers to get you to buy their whole course. The activities I recommend (linked above) are the best I have found on the web.
I recommend you read your text and try to follow it closely.

I strongly recommend you enter two versions of the Law of Cosines as programs into your calculator. The programs are very short and given here:


Here is a TI-83 calculator program to do the Law of Cosines (SAS version to solve for the opposite side). Program 1:
Hit PRGM
            Follow each line here with ENTER. Comments you do not type are in black.
Go to NEW
Enter the name, letter by letter, say, LAWCOS   (the blinking "A" means Alphabetic mode which refers to the letters in green on your keyboard. Otherwise, to enter "D" hit "ALPHA (a green key) D")

Name:  LAWCOS
Prompt A,B,C
sqrt(A2 + B2 - 2*A*B*cos(C)) -> D
Disp D

[In the above, "sqrt" means the square root key, and "->" is the arrow or "STOre" key.]
In the above program A and B are adjacent sides and C is the included angle. D is the opposite side (which we would call lower-case "c" if we could).

Keystroke details:
1)  Hit "PRGM"
2)  go to "NEW" and hit "ENTER"
3)  Type in a name, say, "LAWCOS" and ENTER
4)  Find the "Prompt" command by hitting "PRGM" [again], arrow over to "I/O" (input/output), arrow down to "Prompt" and hit ENTER.
5)  Type in "A,B,C"  [Use the alpha key to use the alphabet. There is a comma key]
6)  Type in the formula (above)
7)  "Display" the result (D) by typing PRGM, I/O and selecting "Disp" and alpha D
8)  Quit and run it on a problem where you know the answer, to check it. (Reproduce one of the examples in the text.)
 

Program 2: To use the Law of Cosines to solve for an angle, use this program (short!):

COSANG
Prompt A,B,C
cos-1((C2-A2-B2)/(-2*A*B)) -> E
Disp E

In this program, A and B are adjacent sides and C is the opposite side, and E is the angle between the adjacent sides (which would normally be denoted upper-case "C"). "cos-1" is "2nd cos" on your calculator.

This site will be updated when we get closer to Chapter 7.
Be sure to do the trig activities.


******

In Chapter 6, your job is to

6.1  Recognize the geometric cases and learn that the Angle-Side-Side case may yield two different triangles. Know the Pythagorean Theorem and that the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees. Learn the terms "alternate interior angles" and "vertical angles" discussed at the end of page 343 and beginning of 344. 

6.2.  Memorize the definitions of sine, cosine, and tangent two ways, both in a right triangle and in a unit circle (You must understand the unit-circle versions. The web activities are very good for that.) Learn how inverse sine and inverse cosine work, especially on the unit circle. Learn that solving "sin x = c" yields two possible answers, not just the one a calculator gives which is sometimes not the one you want. Memorize the values of the trig functions at the three most famous acute angles, 30, 45, and 60 degrees.

6.3.  Learn to solve triangles by learning the Law of Sines and Law of Cosines (two ways) and when to use them, described as geometric cases. Program them into your calculator and learn how to use them. In the A-S-S case the Law of Cosines and the Quadratic Formula can be combined to find the third side (and there will often be two answers). 

All you need to know to solve trig figures in Chapter 6 is:  the angles in a triangle sum to 180 degrees, the Pythagorean Theorem, the definitions of sine, cosine, and tangent, the Law of Sines, and the Law of Cosines.

6.4.  Learn to solve multi-sided figures by subdividing them into triangles and then using triangle-trig methods. Learn how "bearing" is expressed. Also, learn to sketch a reasonably good picture of trigonometric figures.

It is not that much, but it does require some memorization.



Oct. 16
Upcoming section topics are here.
The material in this course is exactly what you need to know well in order to do well in calculus.

        Here is the curve for Exam 2, Fall 2014.
80-82 A- ; 83-100  A;
70-72 B-; 73-76 B; 77-79 B+;
55-57 C-; 58-66 C; 67-69 C+ ;
40-42 D-: 43-51 D; 52-54 D+.
below 40  F.

Do not think that exam is "over" and now you no longer have to know how to do the problems. You will see that material again and, in any case, those are the types of things you are supposed to learn how to do in this course.

How are you doing?  Add your two exam scores (Don't average them). If your quizzes are comparable and your homework has been handed in regularly, if the total is
at least 160 of 200, you are on track for at least an A-
at least 140, you are on track for at least a B-
at least 110, you are on track for at least a C-
at least  85, you are on track for at least a D-
  84 or below, you are on track for an F.

    Students who regularly hand in the homework and do okayon the quizzes often get a course letter grade a notch higher. Also, there are many points left. Even if your grade is low now you can try to do much better on the remaining quizzes (quizzes total 100 points, with some dropped), the next 100-point exam, and the 200-point final exam. A strong final can help a lot. Also, a weak final can hurt a lot. You must prove you have retained what you learned by scoring well on the comprehensive final.
    If you are not satisfied with your likely grade, you may submit (to the Registrar's office in Montana Hall) a signed drop form by Friday, Nov. 14 (with two signatures, from your instructor and your adviser).

    If you want a better grade, study more, or study more effectively. The web has advice here about how to study math. Also, here is advice from previous students.

    You are expected to learn by reading the text. If you skipped reading the text and your exam score was poor, it is time to learn from the poor results of your choice. Make a big change and read the text seriously. It takes time and effort. You don't get strong by watching others lift heavy weights! You get strong by lifting heavy weights yourself -- repeatedly!

    Many students expect to practice (do homework) outside class, but do not expect to actually learn new things outside class. This is an unfortunate error. There is so much more time outside class than in class! College is (unlike high school) based on the premise that you will actually learn new things outside class. Also, college courses expect you to learn by serious reading.  Many students don't read with intent to learn, but college success requires it. If you read in order to "look things up," not much learning results. Finding out how to do something is not the same as learning how to do it! Learning is long-term and "finding out" is short term. If you find out how to do it and then do it a couple of times, that is a very good start which may result in long-term learning. But, too often it does not.
    Why not? It is a matter of intent and focus. Those who focus on "getting it done" (those who want someone to show them how to do some problem on some old exam and those who just want to get credit for the homework) need to change their attitude. They need to identify the principles--the common features of all similar problems -- and "learn how to do it."  This requires reading the well-selected examples in the text and the explanation of their point, in addition to paying attention to the limited number of examples in the lecture, and identifying the point. The point applies to hundreds of examples. Identify the point and focus on learning it.  
 
    Learning takes effort and time.



Sept. 16
About Exam 2 (Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 6:00 pm):
Look at previous exams to get a feeling for what might be asked.
There is usually, but not always:

a word problem with distance
a word problem with average percent change (Examples 24, 25 page 241-242), but the subsection of 4.4 on "annunities" (p. 243) will not be on the exam
finding a polynomial through points (3.4 Example 9, 4.2 Example 11)
a line problem that needs point-slope form  (the whole section 3.1)
a quadratic formula problem with unusual letters (page 134)
a problem where a square root must be eliminated (pages 222-224)
a problem requiring the use of properties of power functions (table, page 191)
numerous, mostly shorter, problems on other topics from 2.3 through 4.4.

Exam 2 Rooms:

Monday-Friday
class hour (section number) instructor       exam room
8:00 (01) 
  Christopher Ashland     Reid 401           [Do you know where the building is?]
9:00 (02)    Amelia Warton    Reid 104                            
[Do you know where the building is?]
10:00 (03) and 11:00 (05) Jocelyn Short   Reid 103       [Do you know where the building is?]
10:00 (04)  Moses Obiri     Wilson 1-143      [same as last time]
12:00 (06)
Kenneth Flagg     Reid 104             [Do you know where the building is?]
1:10 (08)  Casey Clark      Wilson 1-121   [same as last time]
2:10  (09) Tao Huang    Wilson 1-141   [same as last time]
3:10  (10) Jacob Szarzec     Leon Johnson 346              [Do you know where the building is?]
    Exam day there is no class at the regular time.

  If you have a academic time conflict with our 6:00 pm exam (say, you have a class that meets at 6:00 Tuesday evenings) or a disability (with a "blue card" from Student Services), please see here.

Prior to each exam there will be review sessions. For Exam 2 they will be Sunday 4:00-6:00 and Monday 5:00-7:00, two days before the exam and the day before the exam, in Wilson Hall 1-119 and 1-125. Doors to Wilson Hall are regularly locked on Sunday, so come to the Math Learning Center door which we will open. Room 1-119 is on that side of the building.

     You must come prepared to show you have seriously tried the problems you ask about. Do not kid yourself that asking questions on Monday is good preparation for a Tuesday exam. Most of your preparation should have been done long before Monday!


We have free tutoring all day long in the "Math Learning Center". Hours with a Precalculus instructor are noted.

Exam 2, like previous exams, comes with instructions. It says,
Show clear supporting work on problems with several steps. Algebraic problems that display little or no supporting work will get little or no credit. You do not need to show work on one-step calculator problems.  To solve numerical problems guess-and-check is legal unless you are requested to solve them 'algebraically.'


For reasons discussed below (about the world changing rapidly), expect somewhat more emphasis on problems testing your reading and writing skills.


Sept. 16

Comments
:  Section 3.3: Learn Figure 2. The equation of a circle is just that with different letters (Figure 5). To put the equation of a circle in "standard form" you may need to complete the square. Ellipses are circles with scale changes (Example 8).
Section 3.4:  The Factor theorem is virtually the Zero Product Rule. We will not emphasize factors that are not in integers or rational numbers (Therefore, Examples 10-12 are less important).
Sections 3.5 and 3.6:  These word problems are indirect, which is what makes them algebra. Learn to see the operations and order and then write them symbolically.
Section 4.1:  You should already know the properties of powers. Learn about polynomials and their graphs and learn the new term "end-behavior model."
Section 4.2:  Learn the options for solving polynomial equations (page 206). Factoring sometimes works on cubics.
Section 4.3:  Squaring both sides of an equation may yield "extraneous" solutions, which are eliminated by checking. If you square both sides, be careful! In calculus there are many examples like Example 19-22 in which a sum is factored so the Zero Product Rule can be used.
Section 4.4:  Percents are extremely important in the real world. They are in the news every day. We cover it all except "Annuities" on page 243.


Sept. 16

Here are concise section topics for the material on Exam 2.

Here is the curve for Exam 1, Fall 2014:83-100  A;   80-82  A- ; 
77-79  B+ ;  73-76  B ;  70-72  B- ; 
67-69 C+ ;  58-66  C ;  55-57  C- ; 
52-54  D+ ;  48-51  D ;  45-47  D-;
below 45  F

Expect your course letter grade to resemble your exam letter grades, possibly modified upward if you almost always do the homework on time and do well on the required quizzes.
    If you did well, congratulations!
    If you want to do better next time,
1) study two hours outside class for each class hour, on average,
2) read the text (You learn to read by reading, and improving your math reading and writing skills is a major goal of this course)
3) use the Math Learning Center for free tutoring,
4) study efficiently with this advice and this advice from former students

As in any college course, your instructor does not have time to cover all the material during class. But the text covers it all. You are expected to read the text and learn from it outside class.

   The Math Department had an American instructor of high school math in China (a former MSU grad student) give a talk about high school in China. Here is a Chinese school week (You might find it interesting). 



Sept. 9.
Our Exam 1 is Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 6:00 pm, not in the usual room. This time conflicts with  the common-hour Chemistry 121 exam are to be resolved by taking the alternative Chemistry exam, if possible. Contact your Chemistry instructor about it right away. If you cannot take their alternative or have a different conflict, see here. Rooms for this exam are given next (all our exam rooms are here).
Monday-Friday
class hour (section number) instructor       exam room
8:00 (01) 
  Christopher Ashland     Linfield 113            [Do you know where the building is?]
9:00 (02)    Amelia Warton    Linfield 125                             
[Do you know where the building is?]
10:00 (03) and 11:00 (05) Jocelyn Short   Linfield 301       [Do you know where the building is?]
10:00 (04)  Moses Obiri     Wilson 1-143
12:00 (06)
Kenneth Flagg     Linfield 125             [Do you know where the building is?]
1:10 (08)  Casey Clark      Wilson 1-121
2:10  (09) Tao Huang    Wilson 1-141
3:10  (10) Jacob Szarzec     Gaines 243              [Do you know where the building is?]
    Exam day there is no class at the regular time.

Prior to each exam there will be review sessions. For Exam 1 they will be Sunday 4:00-6:00 and Monday 5:00-7:00, two days before the exam and the day before the exam, in Wilson Hall 1-119 and 1-125. Doors to Wilson Hall are regularly locked on Sunday, so come to the Math Learning Center door which we will open. Room 1-119 is on that side of the building.
     You must come prepared to show you have seriously tried the problems you ask about. Do not kid yourself that asking questions on Monday is good preparation for a Tuesday exam. Most of your preparation should have been done long before Monday!

We have free tutoring all day long in the "Math Learning Center". (However, it is closed the hour before the exam.)

The exam will have problems like those on old exams, with slightly greater emphasis on reading math like Examples 10-20 and the homework B37-60 in Section 1.4 (Learn this!). The section topics (here) and descriptions (given below) describe the emphases of the exam. The key to one old exam has been posted at the "previous exams" page. We strongly recommend you attempt the exam before looking at the key. You find out what you don't know by trying to do the work, not by reading how it is done.

    You are responsible for reading and writing mathematics. On the exam we will state theorems or definitions that you have not seen before and ask you to read them and use them. This is a skill that cannot be picked up in an hour or two. You learn to read by reading. We strongly recommend you learn to read math by reading your text.
    On the exam we may ask you to state methods symbolically (as in Section 1.4).


   There are many problems you will find hard if you have not put a lot of time in playing with your calculator and reading your text. You do not develop reading skills (required on the exam) by watching your instructor. You do not develop calculator skills without practicing a lot. 

Exam 1, like previous exams, comes with instructions. It says, "Show clear supporting work on problems with several steps. Algebraic problems that display little or no supporting work will get little or no credit. You do not need to show work on one-step calculator problems.  To solve numerical problems guess-and-check is legal unless you are requested to solve them 'algebraically.'”


    Be careful when you study the old exams. Not all old first exams cover the same sections. This semester the first exam covers Sections 1.1 through 2.2. (some only covered through 2.1.) Each exam says on the top which sections it covers.  
    You are supposed to know a lot of algebra already. There are several levels of algebra, and most of the algebra you learned in school is at a lower level--a level that will not be emphasized on the exam. The exam tests you on higher-level skills. It tests you on material newly learned in this course.
    Be sure you can do the "B" problems. If there is something you don't know, or don't know how to do, be sure to study that. Don't be content with the algebra you knew before you signed up for this course.

    Be sure to bring your graphing calculator with the Quadratic Formula programmed into it.

 


Sept. 2
Rules for studying math, from a newly-published book.


August 26.
Precalculus students: Read this (long) page!

The beginning
:  Homework is due every day. Here is the calendar of class work, homework, and exams. You will get a copy on colored paper in class the first day.
    Follow these links to see how this web site can help you.
The course requirements, prerequisites, policies, grading and administration. Make sure you have met the prerequisite by testing into this class.
Short outline of what you are supposed to learn in Chapter 1.
We offer free tutoring all day long and your instructor has office hours. We want to help. Take advantage of the opportunities  to learn!
This course is different. You will learn what is expected of you as you go along, but reading the course philosophy might help you understand why we do what we do.
This page has an index.
This page has links to thoughts about learning. You will be learning for many years. Learn to learn efficiently. Here is some of what is known about how to learn. Links about math and jobs.
Exams dates are given on the calendar and you may study from numerous previous exams here.
If you have an exam conflict or a disability, see here.
Calculator programs for TI calculators.
Precalculus requires you to change.
Major topics of each section.


 Pearls before swine
So true! Read your text! Learning to read mathematics with comprehension is a goal of this course.
Pearls before Swine
is a comic strip you can read here: 
http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine


 Philosophy of this Course. Read this!   The world is changing rapidly. Everyday things like iPads, smartphones, apps, Facebook, Twitter, and massive multi-player on-line games didn't even exist 10 years ago. What you need to learn about mathematics is changing rapidly too. Most of the math you learned in high school can be done by machines. Most of what students used to learn in a typical precalculus course or even a calculus course can be done by machines (for free!) So, if you want to learn something with real value, you need to think about mathematics differently.
    This course requires you to change your thinking about math.
    This course is different. It is intended to teach you things that machines can not do for you. It is designed to teach you what you need to know about mathematics at the precalculus level that will make you capable and valuable.               Software (like wolframalpha.com -- try it!) can compute answers to symbolic algebra and calculus problems, if you know how to communicate with it. So, learning to communicate mathematics to machines is one step. But the real world does not pose problems in symbols, so another important step is to learn how to take real-world problems and convert them to mathematical notation (The term "indirect" in Section 1.1 refers to this.)
    In the past math courses emphasized
    1) computational skills (because, not many years ago, computations were done by hand) and
    2) facts.
    But now if you want to solve an equation, there is software that can "do" that type of math problem. Now, everyone knows you can look up facts on the web. If you can pose a math question well, you can probably find an app or web page to answer it, if you can read and write mathematics well enough. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of math to learn.You need to learn how to communicate with your software, interpret graphs, write and read mathematics to understand how to formulate questions and interpret answers. Also, you need to have the right question come to mind, which is a non-trivial skill. We want you to have the prior knowledge required to think of the right questions and techniques.       
    In summary, if all you know are the facts and computational skills that math classes previously emphasized (in your school!), you have little value to anyone. The best person at multiplying three-digit numbers can be replaced by a $5 calculator. The best person at solving symbolic algebra problems can be replaced by free software on a website! We want to add value to you, not teach you valueless skills.
    That is why this course is different--even from what it used to be a few years ago. The world is changing and what we teach and what you need to learn are changing too.

1)  This course encourages you to use machines to do problems that are already given in symbols,
2)  but, you will not get a lot of credit for being able to do symbolic problems like you learned to do in high school.
3)  The intention is to help you develop essential concepts, abilities, and interpretation skills required to apply math to the real world and do things machines won't do for you.
4)  You will learn to have the right things "come to mind". (It is one level of learning to know an answer when prompted, another to have it come to mind without prompting.)
5)  Exams will focus on concepts and skills you need to develop, not on solving problems that machines can solve for free.
6)  The point is to add value to you (knowing how to solve for x in problems posed in symbols is no longer a valuable skill -- sorry!)
7)  Reading and writing math forces you to focus on essential, valuable, mathematical concepts.
8)  Expect exams to be quite different from math exams you have taken before (even different from previous exams given in this class!) If you have read your text closely, written symbolic math daily on homework, and assimilated the concepts covered in the text, you will do well. However, if all you can do is compute numerical answers to symbolic problems, you will not do well (because the value you added to yourself would be close to zero.)

   Take a look at this brilliant artwork created from words on this page. How much do you suppose it cost to have this complex work created?

wordle

It cost nothing. It was free on a web site! I just copied and dropped in the text of this page and it arranged the words with size corresponding to word frequency. This (previously) $1000 artwork was free! The point is, machines can do a lot of what we used to train people to do (and pay them well for--but not anymore!). This course is aware of that and will seem different to you because it teaches useful and valuable skills you were not taught in high school.

There are big changes from a few years ago. You need a tool that can do what a graphing calculator can do, but it need not be the Texas Instruments graphing calculator we will use in class (a TI-83 or 84). If you find a great app, tell your instructor and your friends!  I like "Free Graphing Calculator" (by William Jockusch) and we have had the app "Graphing Calculator HD" recommended, but there are many that would work fine. There will be some changes to exams too. There will be fewer questions asking for calculations that machines can do. Calculators can help you learn concepts, so we want you to use calculators a lot, but your understanding of the concepts you develop can be tested without using calculators. 
    When we do graphing-calculator activities in class, you may use your laptop or iPad or Smartphone or calculator to participate. However, using technology in class for non-math activities is prohibited and a severe breach of etiquette.


Section summaries:  Your job is to
1.1.  Learn what it means for a problem to be indirect and to become comfortable with working indirectly, that is, writing about operations you don't actually do.

1.2. Learn how order is expressed in written mathematics and on your personal calculator so well that you can rapidly evaluate complicated expressions correctly. This requires learning how to insert parentheses that are not in the usual written mathematics. Practice until you can get five problems from B2-B16 correct in a row.

1.3.  Learn how functional notation is used to express sequences of operations. Learn to distinguish the function from the notation used to express it, and how to apply that function to expressions other than "x". (This is also discussed in Section 2.2.)

1.4.  Learn how to read definitions and theorems (They express mathematical methods). Learn how to write mathematical methods in symbolic notation. (This is a course-long project, begun in Section 1.1 and treated as the focus of Section 1.4. Reading and writing are essential to word problems, so learning to read and write symbolically is critical.)

1.5.  Learn to read graphs (that is, extract information they contain). Learn how to graph with your graphing calculator and obtain a "representative" graph. Learn to select and modify windows, and use the calculator's capabilities to determine key points on graphs. (This is continued in Section 2.1.)

1.6.  Recall the usual algebraic ways to solve equations. Learn to rapidly classify equations according to which way to solve them, chosen from the "four ways to solve an equation." (This is a section on making good algebraic decisions.)

2.1.  Learn how to choose windows that make graphs "representative" or have a particular look. Learn how changes in the window will change the appearance of graphs. (This section continues Section 1.5)

2.2. Learn how notation expresses functional composition. Learn how given graphs are affected by composition with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and attaching a negative sign.

2.3.  Learn that solutions to "f(x) = c" may not be unique if the function is not "one-to-one." Learn how to recognize when a function is not one-to-one and how to deal with the complications that occur when your calculator has an inverse function but the original function is not one-to-one. 

             [to be continued]


Precalculus requires you to change!

It is not just more of the same--it is not just more math methods.
You must change the way you think about math symbols to focus on operations and order.
You must change how you learn math to also learning by reading the text outside of class. (This is not high school where your teacher has enough time to cover it all.)
You must change your study habits to devote hours to learning and practicing outside class (even if it is not "fun").
Learning is uncomfortable. In sports you don't get stronger until you lift heavy weights and you get sore with pain. In math you don't get better by doing the easy, painless, work. It takes concentration and, yes, discomfort. Accept that fact and you will do much better.



Thoughts about Learning.

Read each section. Do not skip the harder parts. In fact, when the going gets rough you need to slow down and read it several times until it makes sense. If it remains unclear, ask! 

Reading takes a lot of effort!  But, you will be learning an extremely valuable skill.
Don't just skim.
Don't expect that only high points are important (Don't read only the bold parts).
Don't skip the rest of the paragraph because you want to move along to the next high point. 
Read it all!

Advice, designed for this course, about how to learn math. (Read this!  It has some helpful, and perhaps surprising, ideas. Here is a copy in Word.) 
    Advice from previous students about how to do well in this course.  Believe it!


Links to articles on learning:

"Is the internet making us stupid?"  Read about it here:
http://www.npr.org/templates/text/s.php?sId=91543814&m=1
    (Really, it is short, so read it!)  

 The original article in The Atlantic magazine, "Is Google making us stupid," is not short, but fascinating and worthy of contemplation (However, I don't expect you to read it):
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/
It has provoked quite a buzz, so search on the title will get many hits.
Wikipedia has a summary and discussion of responses, pro and con, to the original article.

Learning while multitasking. Recently the news has had quite a bit about research on multitasking. I summarized some of it here, and provide links.
http://www.math.montana.edu/precalculus/Multitasking2.html
        "The huge finding is, the more media people use the worse they are at using any media. We were totally shocked."
        "What's new is that even if you can learn while distracted, it changes how you learn"--making the learning "less efficient and useful."

A summary of new research on multitasking says it has a negative effect on learning. You will be better at what you do if you do one thing at a time. (For example, don't switch attention to texting [at all!] or Facebook while you are studying.) And, you will get as much or more done. Don't kid yourself that multitasking is somehow efficient. It is not.


****************************************************************************************************
Course supervisor:  Prof. Warren Esty, Department of Mathematical Sciences,
Wilson Hall 2-238. (406) 994-5354. westy  AT  math.montana.edu  (If you want to arrange something, I prefer phone calls. My office hours are here.)

Required text:  Precalculus, 6th edition, by Warren Esty. (The 5th or 4th editions will serve just fine, but correct their typos).
Required graphing-calculator capability:  Calculators play a large role, and you must have access to graphing-calculator functionality, but this semester you do not need to buy a stand-alone calculator if you have an iPad or Smartphone or laptop with an equivalent calculator app or software.(The iPad app "Graphing Calculator HD" will serve. I have had the app "Algeo calculator" highly recommended and it looks good and is free. Probably many other app would work fine too. If you get an app, you must take the time to learn to use it!)

You must satisfy our special prerequisite to stay in Math M-151. Have you satisfied it? (Many incoming students who imagine they have actually have not. Check it!)

Course Policies  (which includes sections about these and other topics):

"I took precalculus (or calculus) in High School, so I have satisfied the prerequisite, right?"  No!  You must test into the course. What you took in high school is does not count. What you know counts. Here are the rules about prerequisites.

Prerequisite (you must satisfy the prerequisite!), Work, Calculators, Exams and Grading, Course Goals    In this course, calculators are a learning tool, not just a calculating tool. Calculators help in two main ways. By making lower-level work less time-consuming, we can Calculators. In this course you are supposed to develop essential algebraic concepts. Graphing calculators or graphing apps can help and are required. We will use a stand-alone TI calculator in class, however, you may use any technology which is more or less equivalent, including smart apps or any internet-based graphing program. If you already own an iPad, why pay $100 for a calculator when you effectively already have one?

In this course, calculators are a learning tool, not just a calculating tool. Calculators help in two main ways. By making lower-level work less time-consuming, we can     1)  Concentrate attention on essential points, and
    2)  Increase the rate at which students gather experience with the subject.    Other important information that you will want to know. For example, copies of previous exams are available on reserve in the Library. They are also on-line here.     

We have free tutoring! The Math Learning Center (1-110 Wilson) has free tutoring 8:30am -9:00 pm M-Th and 8:30-2:00 Fridays. Click here for more about its hours and when you can find a Precalculus instructor there.  are common-hour exams given at 6:00 pm. The dates are on our calendar
Mark your personal calendar with these dates and times.
Be there!  If you have an unavoidable academic conflict, or a disability, see here.

If you are taking other common-hour exam courses, you may have a conflict. Look up their exam times now and see. If you have an academic conflict, you may be able to resolve it by signing up (with Dr. Esty in 2-238 Wilson Hall) for our alternative exam time (probably 4:45 the same day for common-hour exams). However, you must sign up well in advance. Signing up the last day is not an option.

We use calculators a great deal. Instructors will use the TI-83 or TI-84, but you may use other models or iPad or SmartPhone apps. Learn to use technology. If you use a TI calculator, one program you will need many times is given next.


Activities.  Chapter 1

Program your calculator with the Quadratic Formula. Here is a simple four-line program for the TI-83 or 84. Here it is:

Prompt A, B, C
(-B+√(B2-4*A*C))/(2*A) -> P
(-B-√(B2-4*A*C))/(2*A) -> M       
Disp P, M
______________ Here is how to program it:
Hit PRGM
            Follow each line here with ENTER. Comments you do not type are in green.
Arrow right to NEW       ENTER
Enter the name, letter by letter, say, QUAD    (the blinking "A" means Alphabetic mode which refers to the letters in green on your keyboard)
ENTER
Prompt A, B, C
        To find the Prompt command, while writing the program, hit PRGM (again) which brings up a menu.
        Arrow right to I/O  (for Input/Output) and down to Prompt. There is a comma key above the 7 key.
        For "A", type ALPHA A,  (then ALPHA B, ALPHA C, then ENTER)
(-B+√(B2-4*A*C))/(2*A) -> P      [again "B" is ALPHA B]      
        The "->" command is for STOre (it appears as an arrow), on a key near the bottom left.
        It stores numbers in memory We use "P" for "plus" and "M" for "minus".
(-B-√(B2-4*A*C))/(2*A) -> M        ENTER
Disp P, M
         The Disp command is for Display, which is also under I/O (hit PRGM, arrow over to I/O, and down to Disp  ENTER).
At this line, you can QUIT  (2nd QUIT)

If something goes wrong, don't worry. Just QUIT (= 2nd QUIT in yellow) and resume from where you were by hitting PRGM and, this time, EDIT (instead of NEW). 

    [Now "quit" and try it out on an example where you know the answer. For example, to run it, hit

PRGM
arrow to 
QUAD and hit ENTER and ENTER again.

Try to solve x2 - 8x + 15 = 0. Did you get  5, 3? If not, check your keystrokes.]  If you want to do a second example, you need not begin over, just hit ENTER and it will ask you for the next value of "A".] 




Prior to each exam there will be review sessions [dates and times to be announced]
     You must come prepared to show you have seriously tried the problems you ask about. Do not kid yourself that asking questions on Monday is good preparation for a Tuesday exam. Most of your preparation should have been done long before Monday!

We have free tutoring all day long in the "Math Learning Center". (However, it is closed the hour before the exam.)

Exam 1, like previous exams, comes with instructions. It says, "Show clear supporting work on problems with several steps. Algebraic problems that display little or no supporting work will get little or no credit. You do not need to show work on one-step calculator problems.  To solve numerical problems guess-and-check is legal unless you are requested to solve them 'algebraically.'”


    You should look at old versions of Exam 1. View them on-line here.
    Be careful when you study the old exams. Not all old first exams cover the same sections. This semester the first exam covers Sections 1.1 through 2.2. (Spring 2012 only covered through 2.1.) Each exam says on the top which sections it covers. 
 
    You are supposed to know a lot of algebra already. There are several levels of algebra, and most of the algebra you learned in school is at a lower level--a level that will not be emphasized on the exam. The exam tests you on higher-level skills. It tests you on material newly learned in this course.
    Be sure you can do the "B" problems. If there is something you don't know, or don't know how to do, be sure to study that. Don't be content with the algebra you knew before you signed up for this course.

    You are responsible for reading and writing mathematics. On the exam we will state theorems or definitions that you have not seen before and ask you to read them and use them. This is a skill that cannot be picked up in an hour or two. You learn to read by reading. We strongly recommend you learn to read math by reading your text.
    On the exam we may ask you to state methods symbolically (as in Section 1.4).

    Be sure to bring your graphing calculator with the Quadratic Formula programmed into it.

    There are many problems you will find hard if you have not put a lot of time in playing with your calculator and reading your text. You do not develop reading skills (required on the exam) by watching your instructor. You do not develop calculator skills without practicing a lot. 




Have your MSU e-mail forwarded to the e-mail address you actually read:
https://forge.montana.edu/projects/198/wiki/How_Do_I_Forward_My_Student_Email
Your MSU e-mail address is   firstname.lastname@msu.montana.edu
And you log in from this page:
https://cas.montana.edu/idp/Authn/UserPassword
(which has a link on the MSU home page).
Go there and fix your e-mail address! Faculty will occasionally send e-mail to you at that address. If you don't have it forwarded, you won't get it. If you fix it now, you will avoid four years of problems. Also, give MSU the phone number to actually use.

Other Resources:  The Education Portal Academy has some slick videos on Precalculus topics. If you want to supplement the lectures, take a look.
The Kahn Academy has Precalculus videos too, but most of what we are do is in their algebra and trig sections. Unfortunately, they have very many videos and many seem to develop the topics slowly and often in a disorganized fashion, so I doubt anyone would want to wade through them all.


In college your instructor does not have enough class time to cover all the material. You are responsible for all the material in the text anyway. You are expected to learn the rest outside of class by reading the text. The homework and exam questions are all closely related to things discussed in the text. Read it! Then, if something is not clear, put in the time and effort to figure it out.


Make sure you have a Quadratic Formula program in your calculator.

************************************************************************************************
This is the end of the required Precalculus material at this time. Check back for updates, especially when exams are about to happen and when we get to Chapter 6 on trig. 

You can quit here.  The rest gives some interesting links, relevant to education, but not required for Math 151.

"Amusing Ourselves to Death" is a prophetic book that was written in 1985. Here is a cartoon that illustrates its preface.  http://www.recombinantrecords.net/docs/2009-05-Amusing-Ourselves-to-Death.html
The book itself is extremely interesting. It is amazing the something written then could still be so relevant (even more relevant) now.

Brain Rules:  12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina.
"The brain is an amazing thing. Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads.
"How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge?
"Brain Rules is about what we know for sure, and what we might do about it."
Here is the fascinating site. Learn about how to learn. Pay attention to the "12 rules".

"Eating fatty food appears to take an almost immediate toll on both short-term memory and exercise performance, according to new research on rats and people.  'We expected to see changes, but maybe not so dramatic and not in such a short space of time,' said Andrew Murray, the study’s lead author.’’ Continued here:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/fatty-foods-affect-memory-and-exercise/?hp


More about learning:

Here is a link to a fascinating commercial site on learning (believe it!), and a link to its page on the role of sleep in learning.

The famous essayist and "MacArthur Genius Grant" recipient, David Foster Wallace said, in an interview,
    "At a certain point we either gonna have to put away childish things and discipline ourself about how much time do I spend being passively entertained?  And, how much time do I spend doing stuff that actually isn't that much fun minute by minute, but that builds certain muscles in me as a grown up and a human being? And, if we don't do that ... the cultures going to grind to a halt. Because we're gonna get so interested in entertainment that we're not gonna want to do that work that generates the income that buys the products that pays for the advertising that disseminates the entertainment.  .... It won't be anybody else doing it to us, we will have done it to ourselves."


Practice beats talent             
when talent doesn't practice
-- unknown author



Index:  This site has information about

Calculator programs (like the Quadratic Formula) we use frequently.

Calendar: The homework assignments and exam dates on the calendar

Changing how you think about math, and why you should.

Conflicts: If you have a time conflict on an exam, or a disability, see here. Course supervisor contact information.

Exams:  Previous exams you can use as study guides.
     instructors, e-mails, rooms and exam rooms, times.

   Conflicts: If you have a time conflict on an exam, or a disability, see here.
   For final-exam times and common-hour exams times for all courses at MSU, see here.


Goals:
The world is changing rapidly. (The course philosophy. Use the link to see why this course is somewhat different than it used to be.)
   Changing how you think about math.

Help: Math Learning Center hours (for free tutoring. Why not take advantage of it?) Homework assignments and exam dates on the calendar

Instructors
:
instructors, e-mails, office hours, rooms and exam rooms, times.

Learning: Thoughts about learning.
     Advice, designed for this course, about how to learn math.  
     Advice from previous students about how to do well in this course.
    Outlines of what you need to learn in Chapters 1&2 (3, 4, 5 [logs and exponentials], 6&7 [trig] will be added later)

Math Learning Center hours (for free tutoring. Why not take advantage of it?) Policies: The course policies. Prerequisites: The course prerequisites.

Office hours 

Section Topics in a few words.

Textbook:  textbook and calculating technology requirements (a stand-alone calculator is no longer required--a iPad app or internet-capable phone will suffice. You must have some technology that allows you to do what a graphing calculator does. We use a TI-84 in class.)
    
Click here if (and only if) your text is the 4th or 5th edition and not the current 6th edition.

Trigonometry. For Chapters 6 and 7 on trigonometry, here are activities for trigonometry and calculator programs for the Law of Cosines.
 



This webpage is maintained by Warren Esty:    westy  at  math dot montana dot edu     994-5354.  Please report broken links, etc.