Mathematics 230 - Mathematical Topics in the Social Sciences I
Section 01
Fall semester of 2013
Credit Hours: This is a 3-hour, 3-credit course.
Enrollment requirements: University Honors Program.
Classroom: Shahan 201
Days and hours of class meetings: MWF 2:10 to 3:00 PM
Instructor Contact information: Dr. Prasad Senesi
Office location: Mathematics Department, McMahon 211A
Phone: (202) 319-5221
Office Hours: Mon 11:30 – 12:30, Wed 10:30 – 11:30, Fri 12:00 – 1:00

Course Description: A rigorous mathematical treatment of the following topics:

• Theory of social choice including a critical approach to different vote-aggregation
procedures and a study of their vulnerability to manipulation; Condorcet paradox
and the intransitivity of the pair-wise majority rule; other paradoxes of collective
choice; May's theorem, Arrow’s theorem.
• Theory of apportionment including Hamilton's method, divisor methods, criteria
and impossibility.
• Conflict and game theory, including two-by-two games, dominant strategies and
Nash equilibria, prisoner’s dilemma, two-person zero-sum games.

Instructional Methods: Lecture, discussion of text, assigned problems and readings.

Required Text: A Mathematical Look at Politics by E. Arthur Robinson, Jr. and Daniel H.

Other materials:
A basic calculator (non-scientific) may be occasionally helpful, but is unnecessary. We
will use the online blackboard for this course (go to, log in
with your username and password, and choose this course) for announcements and
grades. Make it a habit to check this site periodically.
Course Goals:
We will cover parts I, II, and III of the text, but may omit some chapters from those
Goals for Student Learning:

At the conclusion of this course, the student will develop the following:
• Development and use of a mathematical model, including the process of
abstraction and use of notation.
• Reading and formulating a mathematical definition, statement, and proof.
• Ability to communicate mathematics effectively by giving oral presentations.
• Knowledge of different voting methods and criteria.
• Knowledge of several different apportionment methods and their flaws.
• Description of a mathematical game and formulation of strategies.

Course Requirements:
Homework (25% of course grade). Homework problems will be assigned from the text at
the end of lecture and collected every other Friday. A list of assigned homework
problems will be maintained on the course Blackboard site. All homework will be handed
in on 8.5 x 11 inch paper, and stapled if multiple pages are required.

Student presentations (25% of course grade). On those days that homework is collected,
students will present their solution to a problem (chosen by the instructor and given in
advance) for the class. Guidelines for these presentations will be given in class.

End-of-semester research project (25% of course grade). Groups of students will choose
from a list of research topics (related to course material) and present to the class a 30-
minute presentation at the end of the semester. Guidelines for the research and
presentation will be given in class.

Exams (25% of course grade). We will have two midterm exams and one final exam.

Calculation of final weighted course average:
25% ------------ Homework
25% ------------ Presentations
25% ------------ Research project
25% ------------ Exams (10% midterm, 15% final)

Note from registrar: The final exam must be given on the day and time assigned
b y the Registrar. Final examinations, if required, must be administered in the
final examination period. Please plan accordingly for travel, work or

University grades:
Final weighted averages translate into letter grades as follows:
90 - 100: A 77 - 83: B 63 - 70: C 49 and lower: F
87 - 89: A- 74 - 76: B- 60 - 62: C-
84 - 86: B+ 71 - 73: C+ 50 - 59: D

The University grading system is available at
Reports of grades in courses are available at the end of each term on

Expectations and policies:
• Academic honesty: Academic honesty is expected of all CUA students. Faculty are
required to initiate the imposition of sanctions when they find violations of academic
honesty, such as plagiarism, improper use of a student’s own work, cheating, and
fabrication. The following sanctions are presented in the University procedures related to
Student Academic
Dishonesty (from
“The presumed sanction for undergraduate students for academic dishonesty will be
failure for the course. There may be circumstances, however, where, perhaps because of
an undergraduate student’s past record, a more serious sanction, such as suspension or
expulsion, would be appropriate. In the context of graduate studies, the expectations for
academic honesty are greater, and therefore the presumed sanction for dishonesty is
likely to be more severe, e.g., expulsion. ...In the more unusual case, mitigating
circumstances may exist that would warrant a lesser sanction than the presumed
Please review the complete texts of the University policy and procedures regarding
Student Academic Dishonesty, including requirements for appeals, at and http://policies.cua.
• Policy on Make-up Exams: Make-up tests will be administered only upon prior
notification of a conflict and only for a verifiable emergency. I must receive an e-mail at
least 24 hours before exam time stating the reason for a student’s absence on the exam
day. Until a student receives an e-mail response back from me, the request to reschedule
the exam has not been granted.
• Policy on assignment due dates: Homework is expected to be turned in on the due
dates. Students who are having difficulty are expected to ask for help. Extensions may
be granted at my discretion; however, I will assess penalties for late work.
• Accommodations for students with disabilities: Any student who feels s/he may
need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the
instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact Disability Support
Services (at 202 319-5211, room 207 Pryzbyla Center) to coordinate reasonable
accommodations for students with documented disabilities. To read about the services
and policies, please visit the website:
• Resources for student support: Students encountering difficulties in this course are
expected to contact me during office hours or by e-mail for assistance. They may also
sign up for a tutor at the Counseling Center.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.