(SCI 199Y, L0412, 1997-98)

Wednesdays, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., OISE room C-155

Random walks are a fun, exciting, and intriguing topic in probability theory. The simplest random walk involves repeatedly making $1 bets, and asking such questions as: Will you eventually go broke? What is the probability that you will get rich first? What is the probability that you can keep playing forever? It also considers philosophical questions such as, what is the difference between "having probability 0" and "impossible"?

This course will use random walks as a backdrop to examining a variety of issues in the learning of new mathematics, such as: How do people learn mathematics? Why do some learn faster than others? What is "math anxiety"? How is mathematics best taught? Are alternative teaching methods better than standard lectures? Do issues of gender and race come into play? How do mathematical geniuses think about mathematics?

To succeed in this course, it is NOT necessary to be good at mathematics. Rather, it is important to be able to enthusiastically discuss and analyze mathematical thinking and learning.

Professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Department of Statistics, University of Toronto