Instructor: Tim Chumley
Office: Clapp 404b
Phone: 413-538-2299
e-mail: tchumley

Course: Math 342, Probability

Prerequisites: Math 203, Multivariable Calculus, or equivalent

Textbook: Probability with Applications and R, by Robert P. Dobrow, ISBN: 978-1118241257

Learning goals: During the semester our goal is to:

  • understand and use axioms of probability to develop probabilistic models for real world phenomena, as well and derive and prove probabilistic theorems and formulas.
  • translate models and problems described in words to into mathematically precise statements.
  • become familiar classical discrete and continuous probability distributions and the phenomena they model.
  • learn how to use conditioning to simplify the analysis of complicated models.
  • have facility manipulating probability mass functions, densities, expectations, and the relationships among them.
  • understand the power of probabilistic limit theorems in inference and approximation, and be able to use them when appropriate.
  • become familiar with the use of R and RStudio to estimate probabilistic quantities and verify theoretical results

Office hours: Mondays 9:00-10:00, Tuesdays 1:00–2:00, Wednesdays 3:00–4:00, Thursdays 4:00–5:00, and by appointment

These are times I hold on my schedule to be available for students. I like to use these times as open drop in sessions where there may be multiple students getting help simultaneously, but it’s expected that you come with specific questions about notes, homework problems, or the text that you have thought about already. If you need to schedule a time to meet with me one-on-one, either to discuss something private or because you can’t make my office hours, please send me an email with times that you are available to meet, and I will find a time that works for both of us.

Homework: There will be weekly homework assignments (except on exam weeks) comprising both computational as well as theoretical, writing oriented problems.

Self-check quizzes: There will be some short (5-10 minute) quizzes with straightforward questions (for example, stating a definition). They are written to make sure you’re comfortable with the basics and in turn make homework easier. These will be counted toward the participation part of your grade.

Quizzes: There will be a few longer (20 minute) quizzes during the semester to keep everyone up to date and studying the material between exams. These will involve slightly longer questions, similar to homework problems. The dates for these will be announced in advance.

Exams: There will be two midterm exams and a final exam.

Attendance and Participation: You are expected to come to every class ready to do mathematics. This means that you should bring paper, pens, pencils, and other equipment that you may need. Before each class please prepare by doing any assigned reading and suggested problems. Please expect to talk about math in small groups as well as in class discussions. Other classroom activities may involve worksheets, computer explorations, and informal presentations at the board.

Late work, makeups: In general unexcused late work is not accepted and exams must be taken on time. In special circumstances (eg. bad illness, unexpected family issues) I will accept late work or allow for a make-up exam up to a few days late. I won’t be able to accept late work after solutions are posted. Please get in touch as soon as possible if something comes up.

Grading: Grades will be assigned based on homework and exams according to the following weighting:

  • Homework: 15%
  • Quizzes: 15%
  • Participation (including reading questions, self-check quizzes): 5%
  • Exam 1: 20%
  • Exam 2: 20%
  • Final: 25%

Overall letter grades will be based on a scale no stricter than the usual:

  • 93-100: A
  • 90-93: A-
  • 88-90 B+
  • 83-88: B
  • 80-83: B-
  • 78-80: C+
  • 73-78: C
  • 70-73: C-
  • 68-70: D+
  • 63-67: D
  • 60-63: D-
  • 0-60: F

Academic integrity: It is very important for you to follow the Honor Code in all of your work for this course. Collaboration on homework assignments is encouraged. However, it is important that you only write what you understand, and that it is in your own words. If you have any questions about what constitutes an Honor Code violation in this class please ask your instructor. Honor Code violations will be brought to the dean. The penalty for violating the Honor Code on any assignment, quiz or exam will be a score of 0 for it.

Students with disabilities: If you have a disability and would like to request accommodations, please contact AccessAbility Services, located in Wilder Hall B4, at (413) 538-2634 or If you are eligible, they will give you an accommodation letter which you should bring to me as soon as possible.