Matthias K. Gobbert

General Policies and Procedures

Study Suggestion

While I realize that you have only a limited amount of time available for this course, the following strategy has proven very successful in studying for university courses, and I strongly advise its use: Prepare for class by reading the scheduled material, e.g., section(s) in the textbook; even if you do not understand everything, you will have an overview of what to expect in class. At this point, you should review any material or section(s) that might be needed as background for the new material. Then attend class and take your own notes. Afterwards, you should review the textbook and your notes as much as necessary to understand the material; test yourself, for instance, by working out the examples in the text. Now you are ready to do the homework as a final test of your understanding. This approach actually saves time over the whole semester, since it is easier to do the homework right after studying the material and it also reinforces the lecture better. Also, by starting all homework problems as early as possible, you have the opportunity to get help before the due date. During a regular semester, you should expect to spend at least three hours of your own time per week for every credit hour of the course.


The first purpose of assignments is to reinforce concepts discussed in class and to help guide you in your own explorations of the subject matter. The material can only be learned by applying its concepts yourself. If you defeat this goal by not doing the work yourself, you are cheating your own education, but you might also be committing academic misconduct; see below. A second purpose of assignments is to provide feedback to me about your learning progress, and the third purpose is to prepare you for exams. Only as a fourth purpose is the homework used to evaluate your performance.

Please note that assignments are due in class, at the beginning of class to be precise. No guarantee can be given for assignments turned in at any other time and/or place. Unless stated otherwise, no late assignments will be accepted; in that case, a sufficient number of assignment scores will be dropped in order to avoid penalizing infrequent absences.

Some formal notes: Assemble your assignments in professional style, properly ordered, each problem clearly labeled, using sufficiently large and clear lettering, etc. Please leave sufficient margins and other spaces for comments and feedback. You must show work for credit. This means that you have to give enough details such that another person with a similar background as yourself can reproduce your answers. This criterion is the guiding principle for grading.


If there are in-class tests, midterm, and/or final, they are listed in the detailed schedule. Unless otherwise specified, the final exam is comprehensive and will cover all material covered in the course. Additional quizzes might be given. Please note that you are encouraged to write your solutions in permanent ink. If you choose to use pencil or other erasable media, I cannot entertain corrections or grade changes afterwards. While the grading scale may be adjusted later to some degree, the following serves as a guideline:

Score above 90% 80% 65% 50% otherwise
Letter grade A B C D F

Please note that the syllabus is subject to change by announcement, in particular the number and types of exams, the weight distribution, or the grading scale. If there is a class cancellation for reasons beyond our control, e.g., due to snow fall, assignments are generally due in the next following class meeting; similarly, exams are considered automatically rescheduled for the next class in such situations.

If you miss any major graded component of the course, such as tests, discuss your options with me. There will generally need to be a make-up. However, while the coverage will be the same as the original, due to variability in exam designs, I cannot positively guaranteee that the difficulty level will be exactly the same. If you miss the final exam, you should contact me as soon as possible to discuss your options; please understand that I may not wait until I hear from you, so as not to delay the announcement of their grades to other students.

Policy on Academic Integrity

You are welcome to talk to others, because it is important that you learn how to communicate, but you must do all assignments on your own, unless an assignment is specifically designed as a group project. The point of this criterion is to ensure that you understand the material, so use the following criterion if working on assignments in a group: You are using the learning group in a legitimate way, if you are able to solve problems in a meeting at my office and explain your solution in detail.

Submission of any work (including computer code, on-line quizzes, etc.) implies your representation that you produced it without any illegitimate help. If you make use of any information from any source, you must include proper references to sources, e.g., to books, articles, software, webpages, individuals, etc., including to the textbook. This provides for proper training how to write in the sciences and is a vital issue of academic integrity. Failures to properly cite all sources used constitutes plagiarism and a serious violation of academic integrity as defined in Academic Conduct Policy on the UMBC Integrity webpage at You are encouraged to review the codes and policies there. If a violation is observed, you can expect me to pursue the matter to the full extent of the policy, including but not necessarily limited to issuing a failing grade for academic misconduct. The right is reserved to check a picture identification during exams. You may also be asked to explain your solution to assignments or exams to me orally and/or to show me intermediate results, for instance, raw computer output. You must retain your assignments until the end of the semester, or all credit will be removed from the associated grading category.

I apologize for these drastic measures, but past experiences have forced me to add various details to the previous paragraph. Please, remember that I am charged with enforcing academic integrity in order to preserve the quality and reputation of your education, grades, and degree at this university. When in doubt about anything or if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Note that I will only accept e-mail that is sent to the correct address, that clearly identifies the sender by full name, and that has a meaningful subject line. Notice that mail without name or subject might also be deleted by spam filtering software.

Copyright © 1999-2012 by Matthias K. Gobbert. All Rights Reserved.
This page version 7.5, August 2012.