Course Information

Meeting Time and Location

Meeting Times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 2:00 - 2:50
Location: Hirt 209
Office Hours: Monday 4:30 - 5:15, Tuesday 1:15 - 2:30, Thursday 2 - 4, Friday 10 - 11:45
Prerequisite: Math 265 Transition to Advanced Mathematics

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the principles and strategies of combinatorics and other areas of discrete mathematics. Topics to be covered include basics of enumeration, set theory, functions and relations, permutations and combinations, inclusion and exclusion, graph theory. Additional topics that may be covered include generating functions and combinatorial design.

Course Objectives

On successful completion of this course, students will:
  • be familiar with fundamental combinatorial techniques.
  • be able to apply common enumeration formulas to a variety of applications.
  • further develop their ability to write logical, efficient proofs, including direct, indirect, cases, and induction arguments.
  • understand how combinatorics and discrete mathematics can be applied to fields outside mathematics.

Required Materials

You will not be required to purchase a textbook or any additional materials. Some material will be distributed as printouts or free pdfs throughout the semester.


You will typically have at least one week to complete an assignment, which will be a mix of computation/counting problems and formal proofs. You are permitted to work together on assignments, but you are required to submit your own work. Be sure that you fully understand all solutions you've turned in, as homework problems will likely reappear on exams. Formal proofs will be graded for correctness as well as style, efficiency, and written expression. Extra credit will be given for neatness; the use of LaTeX is encouraged. Late assignments will be accepted with a 10% per day penalty.

You should plan to spend approximately 6-9 hours per week, outside of the classroom, on homework and studying for this course. While not all assignments will take this much time, do not wait until the last minute to begin working. Combinatorics problems have a tendency to be deceptively difficult: a question that appears trivial may actually be quite challenging, so plan ahead to dedicate the required time to each assignment.


Basis of Final Grade
  • 55%: Average of Homework Grades
  • 20%: Midterm Exam
  • 25%: Final Exam
Grading Scale

Learning Differences

In keeping with college policy, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations must call Learning Differences Program secretary at 824-3017, to arrange a confidential appointment with the director of the Learning Differences Program during the first week of classes.

Mercy Mission

This course supports the mission of Mercyhurst University by creating students who are intellectually creative. Students will foster this creativity by: applying critical thinking and qualitative reasoning techniques to new disciplines; developing, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific ideas; and engaging in innovative problem solving strategies.