MAT199 Math Alive

Course Instructors

Ian Griffiths
Room 209, Fine Hall, Washington Road,
Princeton University, NJ 08544.

Naima Hammoud
Room 209, Fine Hall, Washington Road,
Princeton University, NJ 08544.

How is life different from 25 or even 10 years ago? Mathematics has profoundly changed our world, from the way we communicate with each other and listen to music, to banking and computers. This course is designed for those who haven't had college mathematics but would like to understand some of the mathematical concepts behind important modern applications. It will consist of largely independent two-week units covering topics such as: Voting and social choice; Probability and statistics; Error correction and data compression; Cryptography; and Birth, growth, death and chaos. You can navigate through the units as we cover them using the navigation bar on the left.

Each unit is divided into two parts. For each part you can download lecture notes in pdf format. There will also be online labs that you can use to help with understanding. The problem sets are made available on the web one by one, according to the schedule. Every problem set will be available (at least) one week before it is due.

Problem sets: You need to look at the online labs and at the problem sets (clickable on the left). The online labs review some of the material seen in class, and give you interactive windows to try out various things. The problem sets contain questions and assignments for you to answer or complete. To answer some of these questions you'll need the interactive pages from the online labs. On the due dates for the problem sets (see Calendar) you hand in the completed homework only. (No need to hand in a printout of the corresponding online lab.)

Course logistics


  • For All Practical Purposes: Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics. 4th edition (1997). W.H. Freeman & Co.; ISBN: 0716728419.
  • The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity (2013). Steven Strogatz.
  • Seventeen Equations that Changed the World (2013). Ian Stewart.

  • If you have any questions, please email me.