Math 241 Section A, Calculus III, Fall 2016


The focus of this course is vector calculus, which concerns functions of several variables and functions whose values are vectors rather than just numbers. In this broader context, we will revisit notions like continuity, derivatives, and integrals, as well as their applications (such as finding minima and maxima). We’ll explore new geometric objects such as vector fields, curves, and surfaces in 3-space and study how these relate to differentiation and integration. The highlight of the course will be theorems of Green, Stokes, and Gauss, which relate seemingly disparate types of integrals in surprising ways.

For most people, vector calculus is the most challenging term in the calculus sequence. There are a larger number of interrelated concepts than before, and solving a single problem can require thinking about one concept or object in several different ways. Because of this, conceptual understanding is more important than ever, and it is not possible to learn a short list of “problem templates” in lecture that will allow you to do all the HW and exam problems. Thus, while lecture and section will include many worked examples, you will still often be asked to solve a HW problem that doesn’t match up with one that you’ve already seen. The goal here is to get a solid understanding of vector calculus so you can solve any such problem you encounter in mathematics, the sciences, or engineering. That requires trying to solve new problems from first principles, if only because the real world is sadly complicated.


We will cover Chapters 12–16 of

Please note that this course uses the 7th edition rather than the 6th or the 8th. You will also need WebAssign access to do the homework. For complete information on purchasing options for both, see If you have the standard text and WebAssign package from Math 220, 221, or 231 from last year, then you already have everything you need for this course. Even before you purchase WebAssign, you can freely use it for the first two weeks of class and so not miss any homework assignments.

Course Policies

Overall grading: Your course grade will be based on the online HW (8%), section worksheets and quizzes (7%), three midterm exams (18% each), and a comprehensive final exam (31%). Grade cutoffs on any component will never be stricter than 90% for an A- grade, 80% for a B-, and so on. Individual exams may have grade cutoffs set more generously depending on their difficulty.

Exams: There will be three evening midterm exams, which will be held from 7:45–9:00pm on September 20, October 18, and November 15.

There will be a combined final exam for both lectures of Math 241 Section A on Tuesday, December 13.

All exams will be closed book and notes, and no calculators or other electronic devices (e.g. cell phones) will be permitted; where indicated, all work must be shown to receive any credit on a problem.

Homework: Homework will be assigned for each lecture, and will generally be due two lectures later, just before the 8am class starts. That is, HW based on Monday’s lecture is due Friday at 8am, and Wednesday’s is due on the following Monday, etc. The homework will be completed online via WebAssign. Late homework will not be accepted, but the lowest 4 scores will be dropped. The first assignment is due Friday, August 26. To access WebAssign login here using your U of I netid and password:

You may need to wait 24-48 hours after registering for the course to be able to log in to WebAssign. For technical problems, contact WebAssign student support; for questions or concerns about HW grades, talk to your TA.

Worksheets and Quizzes: Most section meetings will include either a worksheet or a quiz. The former will be graded for effort and participation and the latter for accuracy. Missing either results in a score of zero, but the lowest 4 scores in this category will be dropped.

Conflict exams: If you have a conflict with one of the exam times, please consult the university policy on evening midterm exams and final exam conflicts. Based on that, if you think your situation qualifies you to take the conflict exam, you need to fill out this webform at least one week before the exam date. You will need to provide documentation as to the nature of your conflict, and I reserve final judgment as to which exam you will take.

Missed exams: There will be no make-up exams. Rather, in the event of a valid illness, accident, or family crisis you can be excused from an exam so that it does not count toward your overall average. Such situations must be documented and I reserve final judgment as to whether an exam will be excused. All such requests should be made to me in advance if possible, but in any event no more than one week after the exam date.

Missed HW/worksheets/quizzes: Generally, these are taken care of with the policy of dropping the lowest scores. For extended absences, these are handled in same way as missed exams.

Regrading: The section leaders and myself try hard to accurately grade all exams, quizzes, worksheets, and HW, but please contact your TA if you think there is an error. All requests for regrading must be made within one week of the item being returned.

Viewing grades online: You can always find the details of your worksheet, quiz, and exam scores here. Due to a limitation of the system, both worksheets and quizzes are recorded as "qu". Details of your HW scores can be viewed on WebAssign, and are only periodically input into the above system as an overall average (hw).

Large-lecture Etiquette: Since there are more than 250 people in the room, it’s particularly important to arrive on time, remember to turn off your cell phone, refrain from talking, not pack up your stuff up until the bell has rung, etc. Otherwise it will quickly become hard for the other students to pay attention.

Cheating: Cheating is taken very seriously as it takes unfair advantage of the other students in the class, and is handled as per Article 1 Part 4 of the student code. Penalties for cheating on exams, in particular, are very high, typically resulting in a 0 on the exam or an F in the class.

Disabilities: Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to should contact me as soon as possible. In particular, any accommodation on exams must be requested at least a week in advance and will require a letter from DRES.

James Scholar/Honors Learning Agreements: These are not offered for this section of Math 241. Those interested in such credit should enroll in one of the honors sections of this course.

Sources of help

Ask questions in class: This applies to both the main lecture and the sections. The lecture may be large, but I still strongly encourage you to ask questions there. If you’re confused about something, then several dozen other people are as well.

The Math 241 tutoring room: Come and work with the TAs and your classmates on homework, test preparation, and any general questions about Math 241 on any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4pm–8pm in 343/345 Altgeld. The tutoring room will be staffed starting Wednesday, August 24.

Piazza: This online discussion forum is another place to go to get your questions answered by your classmates, TAs, and Math 241 lecturers. Sign up here with the code calculus3 and then join the discussion at the Math 241 Piazza home page. Note that you can use any email to register for Piazza and can post questions and answers anonymously if you prefer.

Come to office hours: I have office hours Tuesday 2:30–3:30pm, Thursday 8:30–9:30am, and Friday 2:30–3:30pm in 378 Altgeld. If none of those times work for you, you can make an appointment by sending me email or talking to me after class.

Other sources: A change of perspective is sometimes helpful to clear up confusion. Here are two other vector calculus sources you might find helpful. They are both on reserve at the Math Library in Altgeld Hall:

Lecture notes, HW assignments, section worksheets, etc.

These are all posted online on the course diary.

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