The Undergraduate Studies Committee has unanimously supported my initiative to seek a revamp the discrete math course on our campus.

Naturally, this means a straw poll!

So, tell me again, please:

- 1. When do you think a Discrete Math course should be taken by computer science majors at the
**latest**? - 2. Should all Information Systems (IS, not MIS!) majors take discrete math?
- 3. Should Math Secondary Ed majors take it?
- 4. What topic or topics are absolutely
**essential**in a first course in discrete math? - 5. What topics did you have in your first discrete math course, if any, that you could have done without?

**Edit**, 12:45 CDT Tue 02 May 2006:

__How it currently is at K-State__Here is our current CS and IS curriculum (now undergoing revision).

- 1.
*Discrete Mathematics*(`MATH 510`

) is indicated in the fourth semester for Computer Science majors, after*Logic for Computer Science*(`CIS 310`

) and*Data Structures and Algorithms*(`CIS 300`

). There really isn't much in the way of algorithms in CIS 300 beyond searching and sorting, while CIS 301 is primarily about propositional and first-order logic. There is minimal proof theory in CIS 301: they cover natural deduction and inductive proof, but not with sets, or counting. I don't think they do much with first-order logic, even though the instructors (Huth, Banerjee, Amtoft, Howell) have all been very qualified logicians and theoretical CS reseaerchers.

Because of various anxieties,`MATH 510`

is often deferred to the fifth, sixth, or even**seventh**semester. This, IMO, is a**disaster**. Students sometimes take the**first course in discrete math**concurrently with courses such as*Introduction to Database Systems*(`CIS 560`

),*Intro to Artificial Intelligence*(`CIS 490/730`

), etc. It is a prerequisite for*Automata, Formal Languages, and Theory of Computation*(`CIS 570`

), but many students defer that until their senior year, and it is not required for the Information System (IS) major. To my knowledge, it is not a prerequisite for*Programming Language Fundamentals*(`CIS 505`

). It is not an official prerequisite for*Analysis of Algorithms*(`CIS 575`

), the Algos I course, but AFAIK nobody takes that out of order, and that is not required for IS, either. - 2. IS majors take
*Finite Applications of Mathematics*(`MATH 312`

), indicated in the second semester. As nearly as I can tell, this course exists to prevent our students from looking like complete ignoramuses should Jay Leno do a "Jaywalking" segment on our campus. In fact, its title is a misnomer: the textbook it uses is titled*Finite Mathematics and its Applications*. Neither the mathematics nor the applications are finite, though.

If I had my druthers, I would get rid of this course entirely; it's 80% redundant with College Algebra (linear systems of equations, graphing, functions), Calc I (ditto), and the first month of a real Discrete Math course. The "baby linear algebra" covered in the course is a joke; one could stand in the doorway of a linear algebra course and osmote more from the general ambience. - 3. Secondary math ed majors take
*Finite Applications of Mathematics*(`MATH 312`

). As I said, I'd like to get rid of the course and have**everyone**take a streamlined intro to discrete math (say,`MATH 310`

). I'll bet this would be a boon to HS math students taught by our graduates, too, though I expect that this will be a hard sell with Education. - 4. I'll post my draft syllabus soon.
- 5.
**I**went on to take*Combinatorics*(`550.471`

) and*Graph Theory*(`550.472`

) in my senior year at Hopkins, and we had a 100-level DM course, so I'd say "nothing". Here at K-State, though, I would say there are some topics covered that properly belong in a second (elective) course - for example: advanced combinatorics, generating functions, modern algebra, advanced number theory, and advanced graph theory.

Thanks!

--

Banazir

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