Course Information for STOR 215 (Fall 2012)
Introduction to Decision Sciences


Class meetings: Tuesday and Thursday 2:00 - 3:15, in Hanes 120

Prerequisites:   Mathematics 110.  

Registration: Enrollment and registration for the course is handled by Charlotte Rogers in the Department Statistics and Operations Research.  Ms. Rogers can be reached at 962.2307, or by email at   The instructor does not have control over the class rolls.  Though the first several lectures are often crowded, there is usually enough space to accommodate students interested in taking the course.

Instructor:  Andrew B. Nobel, Department of Statistics and Operations Research

Office: Hanes 308       Phone: 962-1352.

Office Hours (Please check back for time changes): Mondays 2:30-3:30pm, Fridays 2-3pm


Grader:  Alp Arslan

Office: Hanes B09  Email:

Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 12-1pm.


Textbook:   "Discrete Mathematics",  7'th Edition, by Kenneth Rosen

Classroom Protocol: Please show up on time, as late arrivals tend to disturb those already present.  Reading of newspapers and the use of laptops, tablets, and phones, is not permitted during class.   Attendance will not be taken in class.  If you are unable to make a lecture, see to it that you obtain the notes from someone else in the class.

Homework policy: Homework assignments will be posted on the course web page and in most cases will be due once a week. Assignments will be collected at the beginning of class on the day they are due, so please be prepared to turn in your homework at that time. 

Each homework assignment will be graded: late/missed homeworks will receive a grade of zero.  In computing a student's overall homework score for the course, their two lowest homework scores will be dropped. This latter provision is meant to cover exceptional situations in which a student is unable to turn in an assignment due to circumstances beyond his/her control.  Under ordinary circumstances, students are expected to turn in every homework assignment.

To receive full credit on the homework assignments, you must clearly label each problem, neatly show all your work (including your mathematical arguments), and staple together the pages of each assignment in the correct order.  Please write your name or initials on each page. You should give a clear account of your reasoning in English, and use full sentences where appropriate.

You are allowed to discuss the homework problems with other students, but must prepare each assignment by yourself. Copying of homework is not allowed. Any questions regarding the grading of homeworks should first be addressed to the TA.  If you are absent from class when an assignment is returned, you can get your paper from the TA during their office hours.

Exams:   There will be two in-class midterm exams, and a comprehensive final examination that will also be in-class.  All exams will be closed book and closed notes, and without calculators. Tentative exam dates are as follows.  The final exam will be given at the date and time specified in the official University Final Exam Schedule.

Midterm 1 Tuesday 25 September
Midterm 2 Tuesday 6 November
Final See University Timetable

Grading:   The overall course grade will be based on the homework assignments and exams, and will be calculated as follows:

Homework 11%
Midterm 1 22%
Midterm 2 22%
Final 45%

When Midterms 1 and 2 are returned, a rough correspondence between numerical scores and letter grades for that individual exam will be provided.  The letter grades are not a prediction of your final grade.  Any student whose score is in the D or F range should come to the instructor's office hours.  The final course grade is based on a weighted sum of Homework, Midterm and Final scores (not the alphabetic grades) using the weights above.  Note that the final exam counts as much as the first and second midterms combined.

Syllabus (tentative):   We will cover material from sections of Chapters 1, 2, 4-6, 10, 11 of the text, and selected material from other chapters as time permits.

Other Texts: You should feel free to consult other textbooks regarding the material in the course.  Other books that may be useful are:

   ``Topics in Finite and Discrete Mathematics'' by Sheldon Ross
   ``Discrete Mathematics'' by L. Lovasz, J. Pelikan, and K. Vesztergombi

Honor Code: Students are expected to adhere to the UNC honor code at all times. Violations of the honor code will be prosecuted.

Study tips:     

1. Keep up with the reading and homework assignments.  If the reading assignment is long, break it up into smaller pieces (perhaps one section or subsection at a time).  Keep a pencil and scratch paper on hand as you read the book, and use these to work out the details of any argument that is not clear to you.

2. Look over the notes from the lecture k before attending lecture k+1.   This will help keep you on top of the course material.  Ideas from one lecture often carry over to the next: you will get much more out of the material if you can maintain a sense of continuity and keep the ``big picture'' in mind.

3. Read the book carefully *before* doing the homework.  Trying to find the right section, formula, or paragraph for a particular problem often takes as much time, and it tends to create more confusion than it resolves.  Each chapter of the book contains many examples illustrating the ideas presented there.  When you first read the chapter, don't feel as if you need to read through every example: focus first on the shorter, simpler examples, and then look at the longer, more complicated examples afterwards.

4. It is important to know what you know, but it's especially important to know what you don't know.  As you read over new material in the text or your notes, ask yourself if you (really) understand it.  Keep careful track of any concepts and ideas that are not clear to you, and make efforts to master these in a timely fashion, using the class notes, the text, office hours, study groups, and outside reading if necessary.

5. One good way of seeing if you understand an idea or concept is to write down the associated definitions and basic facts, without the aid of the book or your notes, in full, grammatical sentences.  Take special note of how you employ prepositions.  It's also helpful to state the definitions and basic facts out loud -- the same grammatical criteria apply here.    Translating ideas from mathematics to complete English sentences, and back again, is an important component of the course, and important component of mathematical research.

6. Homework plays two important roles in the course.  First, it provides an opportunity to actively think about, engage with, and learn the course material.   In addition, homework provides feedback on your understanding of the material.  Carefully look over your corrected homework assignments.  Most students do well on the homework: even if you received a good score, make sure to note and understand or correct any mistakes you made on the problems.

7. Begin studying for exams at least one week before they are given.  Look over your notes, homework, and the text.  Write up a study guide containing the main concepts and definitions being covered, and use this to get a clear picture of the overall landscape of the material. A study guide for each midterm will be posted online.  For every topic on the study guide, you should know the relevant definitions, motivating ideas, and at least one or two examples.