MAT 351
Introduction to Probability - Fall 2016
Dr. Mel Friske
Office:  S147 (1st floor, Science Building)
Office Phone: 443-8836
Office Hours:  10:30 MWF, 1:30 TR, 2:30 MTWRF, other times by appointment

Text:  Miller, Irwin; Miller, Marylees. John E. Freund's Mathematical Statistics. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999.

Rationale. The universe as we know it is not completely predictable. Otherwise, in a completely deterministic universe, there would be no such thing as free will. For most people the result of something as simple as flipping a coin cannot be predicted beforehand. We call the result a chance outcome. It is remarkable that even chance outcomes often have a recognizable pattern called a probability distribution. Probability theory is the branch of mathematics that systematically studies chance outcomes. It provides the mathematical basis for the science of statistics and it has far ranging applications in the sciences, technology, and business.

Catalog Course Description.

Objectives. (1) To develop a rigorous understanding of the basic concepts and theorems of probability theory. (2) To prepare the student for the study of subsequent topics in probability and for the study of statistics. (3) To explore a variety of contemporary applications of probability.

Course Content. The course will consist of topics chosen from chapters 1 - 6 of the text supplemented by some sections on the law of large numbers and the central limit theorem. There will also be several films.

Methodology. Reading material and homework exercises will be assigned almost every time the class meets. Homework exercises will not be collected. It is your responsibility to ask questions about any difficulties encountered in these assignments. Not all material for which you are responsible will be presented in class. Since this is an upper-level course, the responsibility for learning is yours. The role of the professor is much more to facilitate your learning than to present material. You should come prepared to participate in class discussion and may anticipate being "called on" every time the class meets. Please note that class participation is a major component of the final grade.

Exams. There will be two in-class exams plus a final exam. Exam 1 will cover the first third of the course, Exam 2 will cover the second third of the course, and the Final Exam will cover the entire course with emphasis on the final third of the course.

Final Grades. The final average (AVE) will be computed as follows:

C = class participation (25%)

E1 = score on Exam 1 (25%)

E2 = score on Exam 2 (25%)

F = score on Final exam (25%)

AVE = (C + P + E1 + E2 + F)/4

The grade for the course is determined by the value of AVE: A: 100-93, AB: 92-88, B: 87-83, BC: 82-78, C: 77-73, CD: 72-68, D: 67-60, F: below 60. The professor reserves the right to lower the grade ranges (e.g. the bottom of the B range might be lowered from 83 to 82). The grade ranges will not be raised. The professor also reserves the right to exercise discretion in raising your grade if he feels that the value of AVE does not properly reflect the quality of your work (e.g. because of one low exam score). This does not imply in any way that the lowest test score necessarily will be dropped. The professor will not use discretionary judgements to lower your final grade.

Attendance Policy. Attendance at each class is expected. If your judgment is so misguided that you choose to cut this class, you will bear the consequences of a reduced class participation grade and poor performance on exams.

Late Work. Submitting late work and taking make-up tests will not be permitted unless, in the judgment of the professor, there are legitimate extenuating circumstances. If you must miss a test, you are expected to notify your professor beforehand by phone, email, or in person. Unacceptable late work or make-up tests will receive a grade of 0.

Class Atmosphere. As in all WLC classes you are expected to conduct yourself honorably and considerately.

Academic Integrity. You are expected to abide by the WLC Code of Academic Ethics (

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. In compliance with the WLC policy and equal access laws, your professor is available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations that may be required for students with disabilities. Requests for academic accommodations should be made during the first three weeks of the semester (except for unusual circumstances) so arrangements can be made.

Students with documented disabilities are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Support ( regarding services including reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments to either the College environment or to academic processes in order to assist students with disabilities to succeed. Reasonable accommodations include neither those which require significant difficulty or expense for the College nor personal items such as eyeglasses. In addition to documented disabilities, students facing temporary disabilities such as a surgery or personal/situational crisis are encouraged to contact the Director of Student Support at (414)443-8797 for assistance.

Subject to Change. The syllabus and course schedule are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.


Introductory level

DeGroot, Morris H.; Mark J. Schervish Probability and Statistics. 3rd ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2001.

Feller, W. An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications. Vol. 1, 3rd. ed. New York, NY: John Wiley, 1968.

Hoel, P.G.; Port, S.; Stone, C.L. Introduction to Probability Theory. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 1971.

Hogg, R.V.; Craig, A.T.; McKean, Joseph W. Introduction to Mathematical Statistics. 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2004.

Sheldon Ross. A First Course in Probability 8th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2010.

Advanced level

Feller, W. An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications. Vol. 2. New York, NY: Wiley, 1966.

Loève, M. Probability Theory. 3rd. ed. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1963.

MAT 351Friske Personal Page

All contents copyright © 2008 Wisconsin Lutheran College. All rights reserved.
Last modified on: 8/18/2015 08:11:00 PM.