MATH 499
Research Project

Thursdays, 3:30-5 PM, CAB 549

Dr. Thomas Hillen (Prof, Grad Chair)
CAB 575,

Office hours: by appointment


Course description from the calendar

This course provides students in Specialization and Honors programs an opportunity to pursue research in mathematics under the direction of a member of the Department.  Course requirements include at least one oral presentation and a written final report. Students interested in taking this course should contact the course coordinator two months in advance. Credit for this course may be obtained more than once. Prerequisites: a 300-level MATH course and consent of the course coordinator.


Structure of the course

  • Students are expected to spend, on average, 6 hours per week on their research project, in consultation with their project supervisor.
  • In addition, there will be a weekly seminar (Thursday afternoons, 3:30 - 5 PM) during which students will learn about and practice good communication skills in mathematics.


Course objectives

  • The course will provide students with a research experience in mathematics.
  • Students will learn deeply about a topic in mathematics that is not available through regular course offerings.
  • Students will sharpen their scientific writing skills, with particular attention to writing in the field of mathematics.
  • Student will learn about and practice effective oral presentation skills.

The material for this course was developed by Dr. G. de Vries, who taught this course in Winter 2010. see

 Course Schedule

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This schedule is subject to change, especially during the first few weeks of the course.




Thu Jan 13

Thu Jan 20
Reading assignment: The Science of Scientific Writing
In-class: Group discussion and editing/revision exercise

Thu Jan 27
Assignment 1 due: One-page description of your project
In-class: Peer review activity

Thu Feb 3
Reading assignment: Chapter 12 from Scientists Must Write
In-class: Group discussion and exercise

Thu Feb 10
In-class: Mathematicians Must Speak (the DOs and DON'Ts of Giving Effective Mathematical Presentations)

Beamer example:  tex-file,   pdf-file,   figure-file,   beamer web-link

Thu Feb 17
Assignment 2 due: Blitz presentations and peer review

Thu Feb 24 (reading week)
No Class

Thu Mar 3

Assignment 3 due: Project Report Introduction and peer review
In-class: Introduction to academic posters

Thu Mar 10
Assignment 4 due: Critique of a research poster
In-class: Poster field trip to floors 4-6 of CAB

Thu Mar 17
Reading assignment: D.R. Hess, How to Write an Effective Discussion, Respiratory Care 49:1238-1241, 2004
In-class: Group discussion

Thu Mar 24
Due: Draft of Project Report
In-class: Activity on writing an effective abstract

Thu Mar 31
Ethics Class, room TBA

Thu Apr 7
Assignment 5 due: peer review of draft project
In-class: Consultation for poster, presentation and report

Thu Apr 14
12 noon due: Poster, Final Report, Final Oral Presentation

Public poster presentations and oral presentations:
Time and place TBA

 Grade Evaluation:

Assignments and In-Class Work
Public Oral Presentation
Final Report

Final grades will be decided based on University of Alberta Policy.  Final grade allotment will be based on a combination of the relative and absolute academic performance of each student.

Due Dates for Major Course Components:
1: Jan 27, 2011
2: Feb 17, 2011
3: Mar 03, 2011
4: Mar 10, 2011
5: Apr 07, 2011
on due date at 11 AM in class
Thursday, April 14, 2011
12 noon
  • Final project report
  • Oral presentation
  • Poster presentation

Learning Resources:

Students with Disabilities: Students who require accommodation in this course due to a disability are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support & Disability Services (2-800 Students’ Union Building).

Academic Support Centre: Students who require additional help in developing strategies for better time management, study skills or examination skills should contact the Academic Support Centre (2-703 Students’ Union Building).

Students are expected to attend all scheduled seminars and participate actively in discussions and activities.

Missed Term Work: A student who cannot complete a term assignment due to incapacitating illness, severe domestic affliction or other compelling reasons can apply for extension of time to  complete the assignment.  Applications for a deferral must be made to the course instructor within 48 hours of the missed assignment due date.  Deferral of term work is a priviledge and not a right; there is no guarantee that a deferral will be granted.  Misrepresentation of Facts to gain a deferral is a serious break of the Code of Student Behaviour.

Academic Integrity and Honesty: The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty.  Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect.  Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence.  Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Cell Phones and Laptops: Cell phones and laptops are to be turned off during seminars.

Recording: Recording is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Dr. Thomas Hillen, Department of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences, University of Alberta.

Disclaimer: Any typographical errors in this Course Outline are subject to change and will be announced in class.

Policy about course outlines can be found in section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.