Keith Devlin

Current and Upcoming

Stanford Courses


MATH 15 UPDATE: Sadly, I've been unable to obtain university funding to give this course in 2008-09. (Since my position at Stanford is that of a Senior Researcher, not faculty, we need to find money in a teaching budget to "buy" my time from the research budget, and that isn't always possible.) I am trying to find an external source of funds, either from an educational foundation or a private donor, to give the course in the Winter quarter 2009. K.D. [03/20/08]

MATH 15. [UNDERGRADUATE] Overview of Mathematics. This undergraduate course is specially designed to fulfill Stanford’s General Education Requirement DB-Math, and is aimed at students who seek a broad overview of mathematics, its nature, and its role in society, as opposed to acquiring in-depth knowledge of one particular branch of mathematics or developing mastery of specific mathematical techniques. There is no textbook as such, but students are required to have access to the course reader to complete reading and writing assignments. Lectures make moderately extensive use of video. There is no preset syllabus; at the first class meeting, the students fill out a brief questionnaire giving their intended majors, possible careers, and main recreational activities, and the instructor will then construct a curriculum that attempts to cover at least one topic of direct interest and relevance to each student, while at the same time covering most of the major areas of contemporary mathematics and its applications. The primary educational goal of the course is to provide students with an understanding of, and appreciation for, modern mathematics and its many applications in today’s world. Since part of this goal is an understanding of what it is like to do mathematics, students will be expected to work on some mathematical problem assignments, in addition to completing a number of reading and writing assignments. The class is capped at 21 students, to creat an informal, intimate atmosphere, and is built around close personal attention from the instructor. Since the course syllabus is tailored in part to students' majors, enrollment preference is given to juniors and seniors; first-year students are admitted on a space-available basis.
Course outline (pdf)
Course philosophy (pdf)
Read what last year's students said about the course (pdf)
Stanford Daily article about the course, February 5, 2008 (pdf)

Page last updated: March 20, 2008.