# RANDOM WALKS AND MATHEMATICAL DISCOVERY

# (SCI 199Y, L0412, 1998-99)

#### Wednesdays, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., Sidney Smith Hall room 2129

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*