Preparation for Financial Mathematics

INSTRUCTOR: SCOT ADAMS

(Frequently Asked Questions)

- Q1: blank

- Q2: What material does each midterm cover?
- A: Each midterm is on a Wednesday, and covers all the material from the beginning of the course up to and including material covered in the Wednesday lecture three weeks before the exam date.
- Q3: What material does the final exam cover?
- A: The final exam covers all material covered during the entire semester, including material that may have been covered on the midterms.
- Q4: How do you figure final letter grades for each student in the course?
- A:
Let's say that, in a given course, the second midterm, is worth 25% of
the total grade, but the total number of points on the second midterm
is 100. I tend to set the total number of points for the course at
1000, so student scores on the second midterm will be multiplied by
2.5, making that midterm worth 250 points (i.e., 25 percent of 1000
points).

Once I have everyone's total grade, I order them from highest to lowest, and then make some tentative decisions on final course gradelines. Then I check to see, for example, if someone who has been getting straight "A"s on exams somehow ends up with a final grade of "B+". Such a thing might cause me to make some small adjustments to the final course gradelines. Other than that, the midterm and final letter grades are not used, only the numeric grades. - Q5: Do you curve?
- A: I either do "curve" or do not "curve" depending on how you define it. I do not preassign the number of students who will receive a specific grade. On the other hand, neither do I preassign the gradelines before seeing the distribution of grades. Gradelines will be announced on the web, as soon as possible after the quiz or exam
- Q6: Do you give incompletes?
- A: Incompletes will be given only in cases where the student has completed all but a small fraction of the course with a grade of C or better and a severe unexpected event prevents completion of the course. In particular, if you get behind, you cannot "bail out" by taking an incomplete. The last day to cancel, without permission from your College office, is the last day of the sixth week.
- Q7: Do you give extra credit?
- A: No, no extra credit work will be accepted.
- Q8: What are your policies on what materials are available on tests? Are tests open book? May we use calculators?
- A: All quizzes and tests are closed book, with no calculators allowed, unless otherwise specified.
- Q9: May I discuss the homework with my classmates before turning it in?
- A: You may discuss homework with your classmates, even working on solutions, but the final writeup should be done individually.
- Q10: Should I use radians or degrees, in computing trig functions.
- A: In this class, unless otherwise specified, please use radians. This ensures that the derivative of sine is cosine.
- Q11: Should I use log base e or log base 10.
- A: In this class, unless otherwise specified, please use log base e. This ensures that the derivative of log is reciprocation.
- Q12: When is homework due? How should it be turned in, hardcopy or electronic format?
- A: Homework is due one class after it is assigned, unless that
class is has a midterm, in which case it is due the following week.
It is assigned as soon as the corresponding topic is completed in
class. It is due at the beginning of class, in hardcopy
form. (Exception, for any topics covered in the last class before the
final exam: Homework for these topics will not be turned in, but we do
recommend doing the problems form these homeworks, for practice, since
the material will be covered on the final exm. The solutions for those
homework problems will be posted by the Monday before the final.)
On the class diary, you can see which topics were covered in each class. Keep in mind that topics that are started but not completed are not assigned.

- Q13: How are student evaluations handled?
- A: There's an online system, and evaluations can be done anytime during the last two weeks of classes. Please point to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/faq/ and scroll down to Q185 for more information.
- Q14: By when should homeworks/midterms be graded and solutions posted?
- A: Each homework/midterm should be graded within one week of when it's due/taken. Solutions for exams should be posted by the one week after the date on which that exam is taken. Solutions for homeworks should be posted by the Monday after the Wednesday on which the homework is due. (Exception, for any topics covered in the last class before the final exam: Homework for these topics will not be turned in, but we do recommend doing the problems form these homeworks, for practice, since the material will be covered on the final exm. The solutions for those homework problems will be posted by the Monday before the final.)
- Q15: blank

- Q16: blank

- Q17: blank

- Q18: What is the course policy about late homeworks?
- A: This policy is set by the your TA and different TAs may have different policies.
- Q19: blank

- Q21: blank

- Q22: The instructor seems very busy with setup just before class. Is it all right to interrupt him?
- A: Usually the time before class setting up the technology is quite busy, and I appreciate not being interrupted. However, once I finish my setup, I often begin chatting with people. If you see me doing that, it's fine to interrupt me. Also, it's fine to talk to me during the break, after class, and, of course, during office hours.
- Q23: blank

- Q24: If I'm doing well on the homework, should I expect to do well on the exams.
- A: Not necessarily, because homework is not done in a timed
setting, and because you may be using reference materials that
are not available during the exam.

However, many exam problems will be similar to homework problems. - Q25: blank

- Q26: What are the office hours for the instructor and TA?
- A: This is on the syllabus.
- Q27: How can I find the syllabus for the course?
- A: Point to the main course website
http://www.math.umn.edu/~adams/FM5001/faq5001.html
and then look down the left sidebar for "Syllabus"
and click on that.

Alternatively, point directly to http://www.math.umn.edu/~adams/FM5001/syllabus5001.pdf - Q28: What will the midterm be like? How many questions? What type of questions? How hard?
- A: I don't give out information about this, I'm afraid, but you can look at the archived FM 5001 courses to get some idea. (The course does evolve however, and we don't promise that each year will mimic precisely the year before.) To see the archive, point to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/courses/preparatory_sequence/ and look at the links under the word "ARCHIVE".
- Q29: What will the final exam be like? How many questions? What type of questions? How hard?
- A: I don't give out information about this, I'm afraid, but you can look at the archived FM 5001 courses to get some idea. (The course does evolve however, and we don't promise that each year will mimic precisely the year before.) To see the archive, point to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/courses/preparatory_sequence/ and look at the links under the word "ARCHIVE".
- Q30: I'm having technology problems. Could I get some tech support?
- A: The TAs and instructor don't offer tech support, but your
first line of support as a UMN student are
- 1-HELP (http://1help.umn.edu) and
- the walk-in service called "Tech Stop" in 101 Coffman.

- Q31: blank

- Q32: Where is the final exam?
- A: This should be announced toward the end of the semester, but it is typically in the classroom.
- Q33: Are there some sample final exams? Do they have answer keys?
- A: I don't write up sample exams, but you can look at the archived FM 5001 courses to get some idea. (The course does evolve however, and we don't promise that each year will mimic precisely the year before.) To see the archive, point to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/courses/preparatory_sequence/ and look at the links under the word "ARCHIVE".
- Q34: How can I find out standard statistics
(
e.g. , mean, median, mode, standard deviation,*etc.*) the midterms? - A: Point to the Moodle gradebook for our course, select "All Participants" from the "Visible Groups" dropdown menu in the gradebook. Then click on the "Stats" link.
- Q35: How do I order the PRMIA Handbook?
- A: If you have not already registered as a member of
PRMIA,
you will need to register at
http://prmia.org/index.php?page=membership#.
Please note there is a free level of membership.

Once you have registered, please follow the directions below.

PRMIA Members:

If you are already a PRMIA member please write to the instructor at adams@math.umn.edu to get the discount code. Then go to the following website to purchase the publication: http://prmia.org/index.php?page=training&option=trainingPRMHandbook1

Scroll down and tick the box next to ‘PRM Exam II – Textbook, digital copy, $75’ (discount will be taken once you enter the discount code at the bottom of the purchase form under ‘Special Codes’).

You may access the digital version of the PRM Handbook via the PRMIA website once the above steps are completed:

The digital version of the Volume II of the PRM Handbook will be stored in your PRMIA Library.

1. Login at www.prmia.org

2. Select 'My Library'

3. Select 'PRM Handbook'

4. Select 'Mathematical Foundations of Risk Measurement'

You will next need to follow the instructions to download the Unsealer software that allows access to the digital book.

Once the Unsealer is installed, you can read the chapters online or print them locally. If you have any troubles with the Unsealer, please contact Hemant at publications@prmia.org and he will assist you.

If you have any questions, please contact Jodi Lundell at 612-216-3844. - Q36: blank

- Q37: blank

- Q38: blank

- Q39: Is it all right if I work on the homework problems that are posted, even before they're assigned?
- A: Of course, you are welcome to do that, but keep in mind
that the list of problems can change up to the date on which
the assignment is made. Once a set of homework problems is assigned,
unless an error of some sort is found, the problems will stay fixed.

So, if you work any problems before they're assigned, do doublecheck, after the assignment is made, that the problems haven't been altered. - Q40: blank

- Q41: What text is used in the course? When is the final exam? When are the midterms? When are office hours? Who is the TA? How are grades determined?
- A: All these questions are answered in the syllabus.
- Q42: I'm an online student, with a question about how the online version course works. Where can I go for information?
- A: Please point to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/online_ed/ and to http://www.math.umn.edu/finmath/online_ed/faqfile.shtml. If you don't find the answer in these two websites, please write directly to the instructor.
- Q43: I'm considering helping by proctoring. What are my duties? Are there any policies I should know?
- A: First, thanks in advance for your help!

We will need to make arrangements to transfer testing materials back and forth. You will need to have access to a FAX machine or a scanner. PDF files of exams will be emailed, and the you'll need to be able to print them out, so the you'll also need a printer. You'll also need to have a schedule that allows for each exam to be returned within 24 hours of the time that it's given in class, unless special arrangements are made with the instructor.

It's best not to give the distance exam before the in-person students see it. That way, if any irregularities or typographical errors are noticed, I can transmit them to you in time for the distance student to get a correction. However, in many situations this may not be feasible, and I understand that.

You may transmit the completed exam by emailing, to adams@math.umn.edu, a scan. Alternatively, feel free to transmit it by FAX (612-624-6702 is preferred; an alternate is 612-626-2017). They need to arrive within 24 hours of when that the in-class students take the exam.

I much prefer if you hold the exam, and do not return it to the student, until I indicate that the transmission was received and is legible. We will eventually return the graded exam to the student. If there is a hurry, I can send him or her a copy as soon as I receive it. - Q44: I'm an online student. How quickly can I expect a response, if I write to the instructor with a question?
- A: In normal circumstances, response time should be within one business day. (Typically, the instructor does not check email on weekends and holidays.) During office hours (which are listed on the syllabus), you can call the instructor (at the phone number on the syllabus), and it's generally possible to set up a video connection.
- Q45: What is your FAX number?
- A: 612-624-6702 is preferred; an alternate is 612-626-2017.
- Q46: I would like to dial into the conference call during office hours. How do I do that?
- A: If you are in the Twin Cities metro area, call 612-624-2663;
otherwise, call 1-800-500-UofM (1-800-500-8636). You'll be prompted to
enter a conference ID; enter 5397. You'll be prompted to enter a
participant passcode; enter 761578.

If convenient, point your browser to the office hours UMConnect site during the office hours.

or more information about conference calling, point to http://www1.umn.edu/nts/go4conf/. - Q47: Are online students allowed to attend classes --
and other class functions (
*e.g.*, review sessions, exams) -- with the in-person students? - A: Typically, if seating is not a problem, then online students may attend classes and class events. However, at any point, the instructor has the perogative of asking online students to leave. This might happen even if there are enough seats to accommodate both in-person and online students. A packed classroom is not desirable. Moreover, when interactive events are planned for those who have signed up for in-person instruction, if online students attend, it can detract from the experience planned for the in-person students.