Math Forum

Math 198, Fall 2016, Harvey Mudd College
Prof. Karp

Catalogue Description

The goal of this course is to improve students' ability to communicate mathematics, both to a general and technical audience. Students will present material on assigned topics and have their presentations evaluated by students and faculty. This format simultaneously exposes students to a broad range of topics from modern and classical mathematics.


Dagan Karp ("firstname.lastname", Office: Shan 3414. Office Hours: Mondays, 4-5pm and open door.

Useful Resources

Advice from Joseph Gallian
Technically Speaking Videos
Beamer Examples and Guide
Wikipedia Beamer Article


Your course grade will be based on your talks, written peer evaluations, brief pre-talk reflections, and a reflection discussion that will be given at the end of the course. There will be 100 points available, and the breakdown will be as follows:

In addition, you may lose a point for each minute your talks run short or long, for each day you fail to participate fully in class, and for any missed deadlines.

Audience and Beamer

Although we may have guests visiting us from time to time, the assumed audience for all of your talks will be your Math Forum classmates. You may therefore assume that your audience is familiar with the HMC core curriculum and Math 55, but you should not assume they are all familiar with all of the content of our upper-division mathematics courses. Also, all talks that use slides should be presented using Beamer. See the resources above for assistance in preparing your talks using Beamer, and don't be shy about asking around about Beamer--many students on campus know it well.

Teams, Practicing, Reflecting, and Uploading

Students will work in teams to practice talks and give and receive feedback. It's important that you practice and discuss your talks with your teammates. This will help strengthen your talks before you give them in class. Please keep in mind that you will be evaluated especially on the extent to which your talks are clear and compelling.

For each talk, after you meet as a team, and before 11:00 PM on the day before you speak, please send me a pre-talk reflection email answering (using 3-5 substantial sentences per question) the following two questions:

Furthermore, by 11:00 PM on the day before you speak, please upload your talks to your Math 198 Sakai drop box. To help me out, please use the following naming scheme for your files: lastname-talk2.pdf or lastname-talk3.pdf. (For example, I would upload something called karp-talk2.pdf for my second talk, karp-talk3.pdf for my third talk, and so on. Note: There will be no slides for your first talk.)

Peer Evaluations

For each round of talks, you will be submitting evaluations of at least two of your classmate's talks. Please submit your evaluations by using your section's evaluation Google Doc

by 11:00 PM the next day (i.e. Wednesday or Friday night). You will make written comments on the
  1. Organizational structure, flow, intro, conclusion
  2. Body language, voice inflection, gestures
  3. Visuals: words, images, use of color
  4. Clarity of explanations, amount of information, context, background
In the written evaluations, please aim to give a compliment and a suggestion for each of the areas above, and add any further comments about your overall impression of the talk and the preparedness/effectiveness of the speaker.

Five Point Scale for Five Minute Talks

5 points: You gave a polished talk that could be presented at an important venue with no further adjustments or practice.
4 points: Your talk has solid structure and content, but it would benefit from a little more practice and/or some minor content adjustments.
3 points: The structure and content of your talk show promise, but it would benefit from some revisions and/or a few more practice talks.
2 points: The structure, content, and/or delivery had major problems. Much of the talk needs to be reworked and practiced again multiple times.
0 points: You didn't give a talk.


Students who need disability-related accommodations are encouraged to discuss this with me as soon as possible.