Math 385, Fall 2012

Introduction to Abstract Algebra


Course description: This course, together with Real Analysis, is the heart and soul of the pure mathematics major. The course will begin with an intense study of groups and abstraction of the ideas of addition and multiplication. We will look a great deal at group structures and homomorphisms between groups, as well as their applications to real life situations. We will continue with the study of rings and fields, which add more structure to the idea of a group, and we will look closely at how these structures relate to the sets of numbers we have encountered in mathematics up to this point. Click here for a more detailed schedule

Instructor: Barry Balof

Office: 236 Olin Hall

Location: 245 Olin Hall Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-2:20

Textbook: Abstract Algebra: Theory and Applications by Tom Judson. This is a free, open source textbook. You may purcase a hard copy of the book for a nominal fee on We will also be making extensive use of SAGE, a free computational software package. More information is available at

Class Time: It is my goal to get through one chapter per week of material. A short part of each class will be devoted to demonstrations in SAGE. Time in each class will also be devoted to working through homework exercises. Homework will be assigned and collected weekly, and will include written exercises as well as computation exercises.

Quizzes and Tests: There will be six short quizzes throughout the semester (approximately every other week), and these will cover definitions and routine proofs. In addition, there will be a midterm with timed as well as take-home portions. The cumulative Final Exam will be scheduled by the RegistrarŐs Office

Grading: Grades will be assigned on a rougly 90-80-70 scale, with grades weighted as follows.
Homework and Class Participation 30 %
Quizzes 25 %
Midterm 20 %
Final Exam 25 %

Academic Honesty: Students are allowed, and in fact, strongly encouraged, to collaborate on homework assignments. However, the work that you ultimately turn in must be your own. No copying from any source! Should you have questions about academic honesty, please see me as soon as possible.

Special Needs: Any student with a disability for whom special accommodations would be helpful is encouraged to discuss this with the professor as soon as possible.

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