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MATH 300
Writing Mathematics 

Spring 2020  - Prof. Laura P. Schaposnik

FOR OFFICE HOURS / QUESTIONS pelase set a meeting via email at

Available times M-F from  1 p.m.  to 3 p.m.

There are two writing aspects to this course:

(I) Writing mathematics,
(II) Writing about mathematics, or topics of a mathematical flavour. 

For (I), during the semester, you will write a number of short essays (1-2 pages) which will mostly involve explaining a piece of relatively easy mathematics (usually in the form of a proof), with plenty of time to complete them. For (II),  there will be a longer essay, on a topic of your choice (with a mathematical flavour, and whose topic will be previously approved by me). Depending on the background and interests of the students, this can take many forms, and will be made more specific over the course of the semester (e.g., see here some short published papers written in a simmilar setting). This longer (6-8 pages) writing assignment which will be due at the end of the semester (likely, an article about an award winning scientist who doesn't have a wikipedia article written about). Finally, another aspect of the course is spending some time thinking about.

(III) fundamental issues of mathematics.

For example, at some point I may ask you to think about `What is Mathematics?'. You will be asked to hand in drafts of each essay and there will be ample feedback and discussion before the work is completed. In this way, each essay will give you an opportunity to improve your writing skills.  


For all sections, they appear in the link above


The assignments in this course will be written in LaTeX, for which help can be found in the links above. It is each student's responsibility to work out how to use TeX on a computer of their choosing.

Writing Center

The English Department runs a writing center, where you can get help with all aspects of writing: (You can make appointments, which is probably a good idea).

Writing advice 

A great summary of some of the main things to look out for when writing about mathematics and writing mathematics appears in the following paper:

 "Writing a Math Phase Two Paper" by Steven Kleiman

In particular, when grading your writing, we'll be paying special attention at those common issues described in Section 4 and Section 5 of that paper. Many of those common mistakes are also described in Serre's lecture below, which you should watch before your first assignent. 

More on how to write mathematics:

"How to write mathematics badly" by Jean Pierre Serre (video)