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MAT 240: Methods of Problem Solving

Guidelines for Problem Portfolio

A large portion (20%) of your semester grade will come from a Problem Portfolio. During the semester,
ten problems -- typically of greater complexity than the ones you work for daily discussion or for
assignments -- will be posed to all students. These problems will take time, thought, effort, and
persistence to solve and will typically involve writing proofs.

Each student will work on these problems and submit proposed solutions to the professor at the end of
the semester (Friday, December 5 at 12:00 PM). You may bring each of your portfolio proofs to the
professor two times to be critiqued. The professor will make general recommendations about these
solutions (such as, "Start over", "You forgot the initial step in your induction proof", "This is not the way to
start a proof by contradiction", "Very good, but improve the writing and correct spelling errors”, ”Wonderful
- donʼt make any changes"). If necessary, students should then consider rewriting and resubmitting their
proofs for further comment. Basically, when you submit a proof, you are asking the professor, ”Is this good
enough for my portfolio?” You do not have to do the proofs in order. No more than two problems may be
submitted for review on a given day; and no more than four problems may be submitted for review during
any week.

The portfolio will consist of these ten proofs and a summative essay regarding your work on the proofs
and your experiences in the course. The guidelines for the summative essay will be distributed towards
the end of the course. The summative essay will be worth five points. Each problem will be worth 10
points. This adds up to 105 points; additionally, there will be 20 points tied to submission of proofs for
review by the professor in a timely way. To be eligible for those 20 points, a student must do all of the
following:

• Submit the first draft of a single portfolio problem by the end of the fourth week of the course (i.e., by
Thursday, September 18);
• Submit the first draft of a second (and different) portfolio problem by the end of the fifth week of the
course (Thursday, September 25); and
• Submit the first draft of a third portfolio problem (different from the first two) by the end of the sixth week
of the course (Thursday, October 2).

Each problem in your portfolio will be graded on a 10-point scale with the only possible grades being 0, 3,
6, 9, or 10 points. There will be little partial credit because of the opportunity to submit problems for
review, to re-write, and to re-submit. In order to receive full credit for a problem, your solution must be
correct, complete, and well written. Following is a description of the 10-point scale for grading each
problem:

Points Description

The proof or solution is correct and well written according to the course guidelines
10
given in Appendix A of the Sundstrom book.

9 The proof or solution is correct but there is a writing mistake.

The proof or solution is essentially correct but the solution is not written according to
6
the guidelines.

3 Significant progress has been made in developing and writing the proof or solution.

0 Little or no progress has been made in developing a proof or solution.


The professor will NOT grade problems submitted for review but will only give general guidelines for
further work. However, work that is returned to the student indicating that no further work is necessary will
receive a 10.

In addition, there will be ten extra credit points available for the Portfolio. These ten points will be awarded
to each student who has received a score of 10 on three different portfolio problems by the end of the
eleventh week of the course (Thursday, November 6).

Academic Honesty
A lengthy description of basic academic honesty guidelines is given in the syllabus. All of the parameters
indicated there apply to your proof portfolio, with some additional restrictions. First, and foremost, for
Portfolio problems you may not discuss work on the portfolio problems with anyone except the
professor, not even informally. Admissible collaboration as described in the syllabus does not pertain to
Portfolio problems; you must work on the whole thing by yourself. Any indication that thoughts or work
have been shared will be investigated as academic dishonesty, and according to Franklin College
guidelines, students whom the professor finds have shared work will receive a "0" on the assignment,
lose a full letter from their course grade in addition to the penalty of "0", and face expulsion from the
college if this offense is their second.

Formatting of Portfolio Problems


Portfolio problems must be formatted using LaTeX, output as a PDF, and submitted to the professor as an
email attachment. Part of the grade on your solutions will be the quality of your mathematical typesetting.
Handwritten work will not be accepted, nor will work that is typewritten using MS Word or any other such
platform.