Mercyhurst UniversityMath DeptDr Williams Home

Math 110 Math Apps Art

Class Resources and Handouts

Course Syllabus

Course Information

Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00 - 3:15
Location: Zurn 207
Office Hours: Monday 1-1:50, Tuesday 9:30-11 and 3:30-4, Wednesday 1-1:50, Thursday 9-10, Friday 1-1:50

Course Description

Mathematics and art have had a deep connection for millennia, yet we too often see them as an opposition of rigor and creativity. In this course, we'll explore the many ways in which math and art have influenced each other, allowing both fields to reach new levels of beauty and meaning. The goal of the course will be to pursue a better understanding of both math and art, the process behind each, and the shared perspectives of mathematicians and artists.

In each of our class meetings, we will discuss a different topic that showcases the connections between mathematics and art. We will


After completing the course, students will be able to


There is no textbook is required for this class. There will be one story assigned, which is available for free online or in print for a low price.


Short assignments related to current class topics will be given throughout the semester. One assignment, to be completed early in the semester, will focus largely on concepts and definitions in mathematics that will be useful later in the course. Others will require searching for examples of mathematics and art in your surroundings, or responding to assigned readings.

Late work will be accepted at a 10% per day penalty.

At least two assignments will require your participation in class on scheduled days. If you are unable to attend at those times, please let me know as soon as possible so alternate arrangements can be made. These days are noted on the attached schedule, though one activity is weather dependent and may need to be rescheduled.

Final Project

The course will culminate with the presentation of a final project. You will be given the option of choosing one of two possible routes, each with its own set of requirements. Some project requirements must be completed for both options above. These include
  1. Topic approval. Midway through the semester, you will need to submit a brief description of what you plan to do for your project. Approval of your "abstract" should be earned before you begin any real work. More information on this process will be provided in class.
  2. Project advertisement. This will be a one page flyer designed to interest others in what you're working on. Creativity is encouraged.
  3. Paper. If you are creating an original work of art for your project, you should plan to include a short paper describing the work and the application of mathematics. The research paper option requires a more in depth and lengthier paper, complete with sources.
  4. Presentation. The final meetings of class will involve brief presentations, during which you will display and explain your original art or summarize your research paper.


In October, our class will be divided into teams. A formal debate will be held in an attempt to answer a question that has concerned mathematicians and artists alike for centuries: what and where is the fourth dimension, and how can we describe it?

Each team will be assigned a side for the debate. We will have a few class meetings devoted to the topic before the debate, but you will also be expected to consult additional sources and come prepared to argue your position. A more complete description of the process and expectations will be provided in class.

Discussion Questions

New insights and discoveries in mathematics or art would never come about without first posing a question. Unfortunately, we will not be able to cover every facet of mathematics and art in only one semester, but that does not mean we need to limit ourselves to the topics we see in class. To help fill in some of the gaps, and to encourage you to think about the material we do see beyond the basic facts, you will be required to submit two questions for discussion. These will be submitted via BlackBoard, and will be considered during the scheduled time in class.

Your questions should be focused on mathematics and/or its application to art, and should be open ended enough to allow for thoughtful discussion. For instance, rather than asking "How do I factor?" you could instead ask "Why is factoring useful?". A satisfying answer to your question is not guaranteed in all cases, but we will work as a class to consider the topic from the perspective of a mathematician.


There will be a final exam for the class, largely focused on definitions and concepts that you will be well acquainted with by the end of the semester. More information, including a review guide, will be provided before the exam. The final exam is scheduled for Thursday, December 14, 3:30 - 5:30 pm..


Basis of Final Grade
Grades will be calculated as follows:
  • 30%: Final Project
  • 25%: Assignments
  • 20%: Final Exam
  • 15%: Class Debate
  • 10%: Questions for Discussion
Grades will be posted on Blackboard, so you can keep track of your progress at any time. There are no opportunities for extra credit or additional points, and a curve will not be applied to the grades.
Grading Scale