MATH 309 (Discrete Mathematics) is a three-credit mathematics course that explains the methods of discrete mathematics, which are useful (and in most cases mandatory) for students in computer science programs. This course has two courses listed as possible prerequisites, which include MATH 209 (Finite Mathematics) or MATH 270 (Linear Algebra I). Though if students use MATH 270 as a prerequisite then MATH 271 (Linear Algebra II) is also recommended. If you are interested in learning more about Finite Mathematics, read my MATH 209 Course Exam Article!

Discrete Mathematics is made up of six units, three assignments weighing fifteen percent each, one midterm exam worth twenty-five percent, and a final exam weighing thirty percent. The six units within this course discuss topics such as integers, set theory, counting, formal logic, relations and functions, and finite-state automata. Also, each of the three assignments within this course contain between eleven and sixteen questions that should adequately prepare students for the midterm and final exams. Students could complete the assignments by hand, scan them, and submit them in PDF format or use LaTex (a free, high-quality typesetting system). Both examinations for MATH 309 are written (not online) and students have three hours to write them. The midterm exam covers the first half of the course (the content discussed in assignment one), whereas the final exam covers the second half of the course (the content discussed in assignments two and three). Students are also permitted to bring a non-programmable calculator and a cheat sheet (8.5 x 11.0” piece of paper, double-sided, with personal notes, formulas, and example questions) to both the midterm and final exams.

Dr. Maria Torres de Squire, the coordinator for MATH 309 (Discrete Mathematics), MATH 209 (Finite Mathematics), MATH 266 (Introduction to Calculus II), (Discrete Mathematics), MATH 260 (Calculus for Economics and Social Sciences), and MATH 365 (Multivariable Calculus), has been with Athabasca University since 2000.

She is originally from Mexico, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico before emigrating to Canada to further her studies. She then obtained her PhD from McMaster University. After a fifteen-year teaching career at the University of Regina, she became interested in distance education and obtained a Master of Education from Athabasca University. She states, “I was a single mother working and studying, so I can relate to many of my students. Mathematics is my passion and teaching is my vocation. I am the daughter of a dancer, so my family if more of the artistic side. My daughter is a ballet dancer, so I am a strong supporter of the performing arts.”

When asked how challenging this course is, she states “it is challenging if the students do not have mathematics maturity. The concepts that are discussed are not what most students consider to be mathematics, it is more like logic and set theory.”

She continues, “This course helps students to do mathematical proofs. That is, to argue and convince anyone of the validity of a statement. Hence, the study of symbolic logic.”

Dr. Torres de Squire concludes, “We start with the integers (properties, divisibility, mathematical induction), then applications of the integers to solving problems on combinatory theory. Other related topics do not need to be mentioned in detail. We finish the course with Finite-state machines. This has applications in computer sciences and it is the first step in artificial intelligence.”

Whether this course is a degree requirement of yours or the topics discussed above interest you, this course will have you immersed in an interesting type of mathematics that you have most likely never seen or used before!