Course MAT190

The Magic of Numbers

This course will explore some of the intriguing and beautiful mathematics that underlie the arts, technology, and everyday life. This interactive course will cover materials ranging from prime numbers and encryption codes to Escher drawings, musical rhythms, games of chance, and mathematical designs in nature. Emphasis will be placed on discovering and analyzing patterns in a variety of contexts.  Developed and taught by Professor Manjul Bhargava.  (Last offered Spring 2010)


Topics will include Number Patterns and sequences (2 wks.); Math in music and visual arts (2 wks.); Platonic solids, origami and the math of shapes (1 wk.); The Island of Zeke and other Logic Puzzles (1 wk.); Basic probability questions such as; how likely is it that 2 people in a class of 25 have the same birthday? (2 wks.); Modular arithmetic and prime numbers (3 wks.); Applications to technology, communications codes and cryptography (2 wks.)

Description of classes

Lectures every Tuesday and Thursday.

One precept per week on Monday or Tuesday.

Mid Term Exam - 20%
Final Exam - 40%
Class/Precept Participation - 15%
Problem set(s) - 25%


Short readings from texts and course packet. Weekly exercise sets.

Placement and Prerequisites

No prior mathematical background is assumed beyond high school math.

Sample Material