Math 227: Discrete Structures, Spring 2018

Instructor: Dr. Brant Jones
Email: jones3bc at jmu dot edu
Office: 325 Roop Hall
Section 0001 class meetings: TuTh 9:30 - 10:45 am in Burruss Hall Room 033
Section 0002 class meetings: TuTh 11:00 am - 12:15 pm in Burruss Hall Room 033
Class webpage:
Office hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:30, Wednesday 1:00-4:00 in Roop 325, or by appointment.

Section 0001 final exam: Tuesday, May 1 from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm in our usual room.
Section 0002 final exam: Thursday, May 3 from 8:00 - 10:00 am in our usual room.


This is the webpage for the course, where I will post assignments, problems and announcements. (I don't use canvas except to record grades.) Please bookmark this page, and reload it before each class.

FYI, we have entered a work order for the noise in Buruss 33. Hopefully, it wil get better as the semester goes on...


Date Lecture topic (prepare by reading ahead...)Due today...
Tuesday, January 9Welcome! Discuss some algorithm examples and Section 1.1.
Thursday, January 11Discuss Section 1.2, 1.3. Obtain a copy of the textbook. Do blue problems for 1.1.
Tuesday, January 16Discuss Section 1.4, 1.5. Do blue problems for 1.2, 1.3.
Thursday, January 18Problem day 1. Do blue problems for 1.4, 1.5.
Tuesday, January 23Discuss Section 1.6, 2.1. Problem day 1 writeup (complete sentences, in your own words) due.
Thursday, January 25Check out the sample problem day writeup and review the guidelines for problems listed below...
Discuss Section 2.2.
Do blue problems for 1.6 - 2.1.
Tuesday, January 30Problem day 2. Do blue problems for 2.2.
Thursday, February 1Discuss Section 2.4. Problem day 2 writeup (complete sentences, in your own words) due.
Tuesday, February 6Assessment day! (No class.)
Thursday, February 8Discuss Section 2.4, 2.5. Do blue problems for 2.4.
Tuesday, February 13Discuss Section 3.1. Do blue problems for 2.5.
Thursday, February 15Problem day 3. Do blue problems for 3.1.
Tuesday, February 20Discuss Section 3.2. Problem day 3 writeup (complete sentences, in your own words) due.
Thursday, February 22Review for midterm, bring questions. Do blue problems for 3.2.
Tuesday, February 27Midterm exam
Thursday, March 1Discuss 4.1. Do blue problems for 3.3, 3.4.
March 5 - 9Spring break! (No class.)
Tuesday, March 13Discuss 4.2. Do blue problems for 4.1.
Thursday, March 15Discuss 4.3, 4.4. Do blue problems for 4.2.
Tuesday, March 20Discuss 5.1. Do blue problems for 4.3, 4.4.
Thursday, March 22Discuss 5.2. Do blue problems for 5.1.


The required text Discrete Mathematics (7th Edition) by Richard Johnsonbaugh is available at the University Bookstore. Over the course of the semester, we plan to cover most of Chapters 1-7.


This class is an introduction to sets, logic, and discrete mathematics for computer science.

How to succeed in this course

You should read the book section(s) indicated in the calendar before attending class.

You should attempt all of the blue problems for each section in the textbook after attending class. You may work on your own or with other students. These will not be collected but you may ask about any of the problems at the beginning of each lecture.

The remarks in the back of the textbook are short and mainly meant to check your work. To be certain you really understand the material, use the following

Guidelines for Problems:
   - Be sure to give general reasoning, not just an example.
   - Avoid making obviously false statements by: (1) writing in complete sentences; (2) asking "why is this true" for each sentence you write; and (3) carefully checking each sentence against all the available data.
   - Keep in mind that the problems are asking for mathematical truth, not just an opinion.

Problem days

Periodically, we will break into (randomly-assigned) groups, each of which will have a (randomly-assigned) presenter. Each group will have about 20 minutes to discuss a problem and prepare a short presentation to the rest of the class at the board.

The presenters will then take turns explaining their solution and answering any questions from the rest of the class. For homework, everyone should write up each of the presented problem solutions (in complete sentences, with all details included) to be turned in at the beginning of the next lecture period.


Your grade for the course will be determined as follows:

   10% from your Problem Day presentations
   30% from your Problem Day writeups of solutions (presented by others)
   30% from your in-class Midterm Exam
   30% from your in-class Final Exam

The exam problems will be similar to the blue problems from the book and the Problem Day problems. You will be allowed to bring one page of notes to the exams. Each problem solution you write will be graded on the following four point scale:

The letter grades you receive in this course will be converted to the 4-point scale and averaged together. Therefore, if you are earning mostly A's and B's in the course, you can expect an A or a B for your final course grade. You will be able to see scores for your assignments and exams as the semester progresses on your JMU Canvas account under the gradebook for this course. Canvas is used only to store individual grades. (The average percentages presented there would need to be converted to a 4-point scale in order to be meaningful for this course.)

I do not have a set grade distribution for the course, so there is no competition for grades, and it is entirely possible that everyone in the class could receive an A. I do not usually assign WP or WF grades. I want all of my students to succeed and am happy to work with you if you are not satisfied with your current progress!

Honor Code

In this course, you are encouraged to discuss problems and study with other students in order to enhance your own learning and understanding of the material. However, all individual assignments must be written in your own words and assessments must reflect your own work. You are expected to abide by the JMU Honor Code.


I do not accept late assignments nor allow makeups for missed coursework. However, I will ignore your lowest homework score when computing course grades at the end of the semester.

If you need to miss an exam, you should make arrangements with me at least one week ahead of time. I will assign a zero score for missed work if you do not communicate the reason for your absence in advance or if I do not approve the absence.


Being a student is a full-time job, and this is a challenging class. Make sure you are budgeting enough time to think about the course outside of lecture. Generally speaking, I expect you to spend at least two hours outside of class for each hour of lecture, reading the textbook and working on homework problems. You don't need to spend all of this time working by yourself; consider starting a study group to share ideas about the homework problems, and then write up solutions in your own words.

Please take advantage of office hours, and feel free to drop by my office at other times. You do not need an appointment. If I'm in my office, I'll be happy to discuss the course with you. If you cannot make the regular office hours, email me so that we can schedule an appointment.

JMU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandate reasonable accommodations be provided for students with documented disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate provision of accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Office of Disability Services, the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities. The office is located in Wilson Hall, Room 107 and you may call 540-568-6705 for more information.

Please see for common JMU academic policies regarding: Attendance, Academic Honesty, Adding/Dropping Courses, Disability Accommodations, Inclement Weather, and Religious Accommodations.