Math 421 - Fall 2023

Basic Info


Course Description

We will cover basic probability theory, starting with probability rules, conditional probability, discrete & continuous random variables, important probability distributions, expectation & variance, joint probability distributions, transformations, and finishing with some limit theorems such as the Law of Large Numbers.

Tentative Schedule

The schedule below is tentative, and may be subject to change. Changes will be announced in class, and you are responsible for knowing about any changes even if you miss the class when they are announced.


Week Topic Notes Homework
1 Sample spaces, counting Week 01 HW1
2 Conditional probability Week 02 HW2
3 Bayes theorem, conditioning Week 03 HW3
4 Random variables, binomial distribution Week 04 HW4
5 Expected value, Midterm 1 Week 05
6 Poisson distribution, variance Week 06 HW5
7 Continuous random variables Week 07 HW6
8 Continuous random variables - con’d Week 08 HW7
9 Moment generating functions Week 09 HW8
10 Sums of random variables, Midterm 2 Week 10
11 Joint distributions Week 11 HW9
12 Joint distributions - con’d Week 12 HW10
13 Transformations, Midterm 3 Week 13 HW11
14 Limit theorems, law of large numbers Week 14

Attendance Policy

Attendance in this class is required. Repeated absences may result in a forced withdrawal from the course. You are responsible for any material you miss due to absence. Please let me know ahead of time if you know that you will not be able to attend class.

Grading Policy

The term grade will be based on the following factors.

Component     Proportion    
Homework 40%
Midterm Exams 30%
Final Exam 30%


There will be homework problems assigned every week. These will be collected on Fridays. I will drop the lowest homework grade. Late homework will only receive a fraction of the full possible grade.


There will be three in-class midterm exams and a cumulative final. These exams will be announced in advance, and you will know exactly what concepts will be covered on each exam.

Office Hours

My office hours are shown on my weekly schedule. I am also available by appointment. If you can’t stop by during my regular office hours, just ask me after class or by e-mail, and I’ll be happy to make an appointment that works for both of us.

Special Accommodations

Students who think they may need accommodations in this course because of the impact of a disability are encouraged to meet with me privately at the beginning of the semester. Students also should contact Melissa Wood, Title IX/504 Coordinator (, 434-223-6061) to verify their eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Early contact will help to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and delays.