Colorado State University, Pueblo
Math 124 — Precalculus Mathematics, Section 2
Spring 2009

Here is a shortcut to the course schedule/homework page.

Lectures: MTWΘF 1-1:50pm in PM 108      Office Hours: MWF 11-11:50am, TΘ 12-12:50pm or by appointment

Instructor: Jonathan Poritz     Office: PM 248      E-mail:
Phone: 549-2044 (office — any time); 337-1210 (cell) and 473-8928 (home) (both for emergencies only, please)

Text: Precalculus, Fifth Edition, by James Stewart, Lothar Redlin and Saleem Watson.
[This book is not too bad (although it is insanely expensive and weighs a ton, much of that due to chapters we will not cover in this course). It is available used (look for the fifth edition). Please note that I will assume in class that students will actually read the text sections I assign on the HW/schedule web page, usually before we cover them in class, but certainly the same week.]

Prerequisites: A satisfactory grade on a placement exam and two years of high school algebra, or Math 121, or the equivalent. [In particular, we are assuming students can: solve linear and quadratic equations; simplify algebraic expressions involving radicals and rational exponents; multiply and factor polynomials; etc.]

Objective: Fundamentally, this course is designed to bring students to a fairly high comfort and fluency level in their problem-solving with algebra and trigonometry. This is a necessary foundation for the entire calculus sequence which many students will go on to take, as well as for many courses in the sciences. Pursuant to this objective, we will cover Chapters 2-8 and 10, with some sections omitted, of our textbook.

Academic integrity: Mathematics is more effectively and easily learned — and more fun — when you work in groups. However, all work you turn in must be your own, and any form of cheating is grounds for an immediate F in the course for all involved parties.

Daily procedures: Regular attendance in class is a key to success. I will assume students will generally be present (e.g., in terms of making announcements), although I will not take attendance and will try to keep my HW/schedule web page up to date will all important notices. Outside of class, you should expect to spend 2-3 hours per day on this course, mostly on homework. This is not an exaggeration (or a joke), and you should make sure you have the time and energy — but I guarantee that if you put in the time and generally approach the class with some seriousness you will get quite a bit out of it (certainly including the grade you need).

Calculators: Students are required to have and to become (somewhat) familiar with the basic functioning of a graphing calculator such as the Texas Instruments TI-83. Your calculators will be permitted (suggested) for (large parts of) all of our exams — while symbolic calculators (like the TI-89) will be forbidden — and in fact I suggest you generally bring it to class, in case we do group work for which it is useful. The TI-83 or a like calculator is required in many CSUP math and science classes, so it is a very reasonable investment.

Students with disabilities: The University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulate that no student shall be denied the benefits of education "solely by reason of a handicap." If you have a documented disability that may impact your performance in this class for which you may require accommodations, please see me as soon as possible to arrange these accommodations. In order to receive this assistance, you must be registered with, and provide documentation of your disability to, the Disability Services Office, which is located in the Psychology Building, Room 232.

Homework: Mathematics at this level is a kind of practical (although purely mental) skill, not unlike a musical or sports skill — and, like for those other skills, one must practise to build the skill. In short, doing problems is the only way truly to master this material (in fact, the only way to pass). To this end, there will be daily, fairly extensive homework set. Similarly, we will spend much of our time in class discussing problems. In fact, I am happy to work with you during class time on the homework set due on the following day (or even due that very day).

Since so much homework will be coming in to me, I ask your help in keeping it organized. So here are some individually trivial (some of them) but useful guidelines I would like you to follow:

Quizzes: Most Fridays, during weeks in which there is no hour exam, there will be a short (10-15 minute) quiz at the end of class. These will be closed book, but calculators will (usually) be allowed.

Exams: We will have four in-class hour exams: Test I on Chapter 2 of the text, scheduled for Thursday, January 29th; Test II on Chapters 3 and 4, scheduled for Friday, February 27th; Test III on Chapters 5 and 6, for Friday, March 20th; and Test IV on Chapters 7 and 10, for Wednesday, April 21st (these dates are reasonably certain, but might change — always with a week or more advance notice — if circumstances warrant). Our final exam is in two pieces: a multiple choice part, common to all sections of precalculus at CSUP, on Wednesday, April 29th at 1pm, and a more free-form, comprehensive exam for our section only, on Thursday, April 30th at 1pm. Both of these will be in PM 108.

Grades: Your total homework points will be scaled to be out of 100. So also will be the total quiz points. Each hour exam during the term will be graded out of 100, while the final will be out of 200. This means that the maximum possible course points are then 800. Letter grades will then be calculated in a way no more strict than:

A: 720-800
B: 640-719
C: 560-639
D: 480-559
F: 0-479
(This amounts simply to the old "90-100% is an A, 80-90% a B, etc." business.) Note that by Math Department policy, there will be no +'s or -'s. On quiz or exam days, attendance is required -- if you miss a quiz or exam, you will get a zero as score; you will be able to replace that zero only if you are regularly attending class and have informed me, in advance, of your valid reason for missing that day.

Contact outside class: Over the years I have been teaching, I have noticed that the students who come to see me outside class are very often the ones who do well in my classes. Now correlation is not causation, but why not put yourself in the right statistical group and drop in sometime? I am always in my office, PM 248, during official office hours (to be announced soon). If you want to talk to me privately and/or cannot make those times, please mention it to me in class or by e-mail, and we can find another time. Please feel free to contact me for help also by e-mail at, to which I will try to respond quite quickly (usually within the day, often much more quickly); be aware, however, that it is hard to do complex mathematics by e-mail, so if the issue you raise in an e-mail is too hard for me to answer in that form, it may well be better if we meet before the next class, or even talk on the telephone (in which case, include in your e-mail a number where I can reach you).

The Math Learning Center: located in PM 132, is a fantastic resource for CSUP math students. Use it often! (Although during my office hours, come to my office, preferentially.) It is free and fun, staffed with friendly and helpful tutors.
The MLC opens at 8:30
weekdays and closes at:   
5pm 4pm 5pm 4pm 3pm

A request about e-mail: E-mail is a great way to keep in touch with me, but since I tell all my students that, I get a lot of e-mail. So to help me stay organized, please put your full name and the course name or number in the subject line of all messages to me. Also, if you are writing me for help on a particular problem, please do not assume I have my book, it is often not available to me when I am answering e-mail; therefore, you should give me enough information about the problem so that I can actually help you solve it (i.e., "How do you do problem number n on page p" is often not a question I will be able to answer).