Math 296, Honors Seminar:

Geometry and the Imagination

Spring 1999

in 441 Altgeld Hall, MWF at 1pm (sect E1).
Web address:
This syllabus is available online at
and course news will be posted as appropriate.
John M. Sullivan,, 326 Illini Hall,
244-5930 (with answering machine); mailbox in 250 Altgeld.
Office hours:
Tentatively, Mon,Thu 2-3pm, or by appointment.
We will use handouts in class instead of a textbook. Students are expected to purchase Polydron building kits for making polyhedral models. The book ``Geometry and the Imagination'' by Hilbert and Cohn-Vossen will provide some supplementary reading, but unfortunately is out of print.
There is no prerequisite except your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
Students are expected to keep a journal recording what you learn in class and your solutions to problems assigned for homework. Journals will be collected and read once a week.
A major part of the course grade will be based on a final project. Students may choose to investigate some topic and write a report, to build a physical model, or to write a computer program.
Mathematics can be thought of as the search for abstract patterns in nature. We will investigate patterns in geometry, including polyhedra, topology, curvature, and symmetries. Rather than using classroom time for traditional lectures, we will get everyone involved in explorations and discussions, often involving hands-on experiments with models. The assignments will emphasize clear exposition of ideas.