Math 131—Calculus I—Fall 2016

This page covers the essential information for all sections of Math 131. More complete and timely information appears on the course web site http://blogs.umass.edu/math131. Your section’s instructor will provide additional information  applicable just to that section.


Math 131 begins the three-semester sequence 131–132–233 covering standard material on  calculus. These courses are more sophisticated and move much faster than many high school calculus courses.  They cover basic concepts, methods, and applications suitable for majors in engineering, natural sciences, computer science, mathematics, etc.  The emphasis is upon problem-solving rather than on proving theorems.

Math 131 deals with single-variable differential calculus. The central concept is rate of change, as realized by the mathematical notion of derivative. The concepts of area and net distance traveled are generalized to the notion of the definite integral.

Coverage and learning goals

See the Topics page for a detailed list of topics covered and the Schedule page for the weekly schedule by section of the text.

For learning goals and a list of representative problems you should be able to solve by the end of this course, see http://blogs.umass.edu/math131/files/2011/05/Math131Goals_Problems.pdf.


Be proficient in high school algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, and analytic geometry.


  • take two mid-semester exams tentatively scheduled on Schedule page
  • take the two-hour final exam, covering the entire semester’s work, at the officially scheduled time
  • do the frequent WebAssign homework assignments as scheduled by your section’s instructor
  • take quizzes and do other work as prescribed by your section’s instructor
  • attend class regularly and do all assigned reading

Required text

Choose one of three options:

(1) You may purchase James Stewart, Calculus: Early Transcendentals , Hybrid Edition, 8th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2016. Paperback printed book + eBook + WebAssign. ISBN-10: 1-305-71030-4| ISBN-13:978-1-305-71030-6 from Cengage ($135). See http://www.cengagebrain.com/course/1214750

(2) You may purchase Enhanced WebAssign (Webassign access code+ebook): single-term ($75) or multi-term (also is called life time version) ($110) at CengageBrain microsites that were created for MATH 131/132/233 UMass Calculus courses at http://www.cengagebrain.com/course/1214750 (Recommended).

(3) You purchase Enhanced WebAssign directly from the WebAssign website as oppose to the above linked microsite, you will get the same stand-alone Instant Access Code to Enhanced WebAssign (with ebook) but at a higher price: $82.00 for single-term and $121 for multi-term.

Required homework system

You are required to use the WebAssign on-line system for homework. Purchase of the Hybrid 8th version of the ebook includes access to WebAssign.

Logging in to WebAssign

On the log-in page at http://webassign.net, give your…

  • Username: the part of your official UMass e-mail address before the @ sign.
  • Institution: umass
  • Password: your UMass Student ID number (change it as soon as possible, and make it something you’ll remember but others won’t be able to figure out!); or
    your old WebAssign password if you previously used WebAssign.

Shortly after the semester begins, your lecture instructor will add you to the WebAssign roster for that section, and then you will see your Math 131 section after you log in to WebAssign.

You do not roster yourself in WebAssign, and so there is no “course code” for you to enter. Your lecture section instructor puts you on the roster there.

If you add the course or change sections, it is essential to notify your instructor of this so that he or she can add you to the roster or delete your account from the current section.

WebAssign access code

Two weeks after your initial registration to webassign, you will need to enter your WebAssign access code when you log in. You get this access code when you buy an enhanced Webassign.


For your total score:

  • each of the two mid-semester exams counts 25%,
  • the final exam counts 30%, and
  • the remaining 20% is determined by your instructor based upon other work such as homework and quizzes, with Homework  counts at least 10% of the total score, and quizzes(>=6%), discussion section and attendance(<=4%) together count at most 10% of the total score).

If your final exam score exceeds the average of your Exam 1 and Exam 2 scores, then your final exam will count 35% (instead of 30%) and each of Exams 1 and 2 will count only 22.5% (instead of 25%).  The course letter-grade scale is:

A A B+ B B C+ C C D+ D F
90 87 83 79 75 71 67 63 59 55 <55

Help resources

The Calculus Tutoring Center in LGRT 140, staffed by faculty and TAs,  is normally open Monday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.. See the Center’s web site for the current schedule.

See the Help page of the course web site for additional help and tutoring options.


The TI-89 Titanium is recommended. It will do symbolic manipulations common in calculus and help with certain paper-and-pencil calculations. You may use your calculator on all exams except Exam 2. The Calculator page lists useful calculator skills for the course.

On Exams 1 and the Final Exam, only a “dedicated” calculator may be used—not a calculator app on a cell phone, tablet device, computer, or other electronic device.


The exams, given on the dates and at the times indicated above, are the same for all lecture sections of the course. Your instructor will tell you where your section takes the exam—which may differ from one exam to the next.

For all exams except Exam 2, you may use a calculator (but you may not share a calculator nor use a computer or a calculator app  on a cell phone or other electronic device).

Otherwise, exams are “closed-book”.

Although on occasion short-answer questions may be included, typically on exams you must show all your work. It is essential that you clearly organize your written work. Answers may receive no credit if you do not adequately justify them!

What to bring to exams

  • your official UMass student ID card
  • a supply of pencils and an eraser, or pens
  • your calculator and extra batteries—except no calculator at Exam 2

Homework problems

You do the homework problems your instructor assigns in the on-line WebAssign system. Most problems are “parameterized”, so that different students get different versions of the problem.

Exams will be constructed under the assumption that you have done these assignments. Your instructor may assign additional homework.

Due dates for homework assignments will be announced by your instructor and posted in WebAssign.

Most WebAssign problems are fill-in-the-blank, where you just supply the answer, and a few are multiple-choice.  A few ask you to type in the same sort of detailed work you would do on paper. On exams, by contrast, you are expected to write out your solution in an organized fashion and show all the relevant work. The paper-and-pencil quizzes given in most lecture sections (usually, at discussion section meetings) will provide practice with writing out solutions.

Most problems include  links to view relevant on-line extracts from the text, watch tutorial videos, and get other help.

Exam make-up policy

If another officially scheduled exam conflicts with a Math 131 exam, or in certain other circumstances (see below), you may qualify to take a make-up exam. No make-ups will be given just to accommodate personal travel plans.

Course-wide make-ups for Exams 1–2 are scheduled, please see Schedule page.

Make-up exam request procedure

No later than two weeks before the exam give your instructor a written request for a make-up that includes: your name and ID number; your section number and instructor’s name; the reason for requesting the make-up exam; and documentation supporting your request.

If your make-up request is submitted in time and your lecture-section instructor deems the documentation adequate, your instructor will notify the Course Chair. A few days before the scheduled make-up exam, the Course Chair will  notify you directly by e-mail, telling you the exam’s location.

Your instructor will directly arrange any make-up exam allowed because of an emergency situation that prohibited your making an advance request or prevented you from taking the course-wide make-up.

Make-up due to conflicting exam

If you have a mid-semester exam in another course at the same time as the Math 131 exam, then the Spire 5-digit class numbers of the two courses determine which is obliged to give a make-up. If the final digit(s) of the 5-digit class number for your Math 131 section is higher than the final digit(s) of the 5-digit class number for the other course, you are entitled to a make-up exam in Math 131.

For example, if the Math 131 class number is 59321 and the class number in the other course is 22204, then the other course should give the make-up (because 4 > 1).  But if the Math 131 class number is 33321 and the class number of the other course is 99911 (with a tie in the final digit), then Math 131 should give the make-up (because 21 > 11).

To support your make-up request, provide documentation that:

  1. you are enrolled in the other course; and
  2. you have a conflicting exam there; and
  3. the class number of the other course entitles you to a make-up in Math 131.

This documentation may take the form of:

  • printed copies of your class schedule from Spire and the other course’s syllabus (perhaps from its web site); or
  • a signed form from the Registrar’s Office; or
  • a written statement from the other course’s instructor.

Make-up due to conflicting class

Ordinarily, evening classes meet Monday or Tuesday, when there is no  conflict with our evening exams. If you do have a class scheduled during the time of a Math 131 exam, the instructor of the other course is supposed to excuse you from class and to make provision for make-up work there, if necessary.

However, you may request a make-up exam in Math 131 if:

  • the conflicting class meets only once a week, between 7 and 9 p.m.; and
  • it is the lecture or primary enrollment portion of the course; and
  • your absence from the class “will significantly impact the course”.

To support your request, provide a written statement from the instructor of the conflicting class.

Make-up due to official University travel

You are also entitled to a make-up exam if you are away from campus for official UMass travel.

To support your make-up request, attach written explanation by the relevant campus official for the necessity of your absence.

Make-up due to religious observance

In the case of absence from an exam due to religious observance (see below), ask your instructor to provide the Course Chair with confirmation that you provided the specified notification at the beginning of the semester.

Make-up for medical reasons

In case of a medical emergency, submit a statement from a medical professional that includes a phone number where the professional may be contacted. While it is your right not to disclose any details, the medical professional’s statement must indicate that you were unable for medical reasons to take the scheduled exam. If advance notice is possible and not given, your instructor may refuse your request.

Final exam conflicts

The last day of final exams is listed on Umass calendar (you may find it yourself), but if the Math 131 final exam is that day but cannot be given then because of a snow emergency closing, the final could be as late as next Monday (please verify it from Umass calendar). No final exam make-ups will be given just to accommodate personal travel plans.

If an emergency or medical problem prevents you from taking the final exam, contact your instructor. If, as if often the case, it is not possible to arrange a special make-up before finals end, then request an Incomplete; otherwise, you may receive a course grade of F.

There are standard procedures to handle any official final exam conflict. A final exam conflict exists when, according to the official exam schedule, either

  • you have another final at the same time as the Math 131 exam and the five-digit class number of your Math 131 lecture section has a higher last digit than the class number of the other course; or
  • you have 3 finals the same day and the Math 131 exam is the middle one of the three.

In that case, no later than two weeks before the final exam, provide your instructor with:

  1. a signed form from the Registrar’s Office (213 Whitmore) confirming you are entitled to a make-up in Math 131; and
  2. a certified copy of your entire final exam schedule—a printed copy of that schedule from Spire, or written certification of a copy from the Registrar’s Office; and
  3. on that final exam schedule, your name, ID number, e-mail address, and phone number (so you can be contacted to arrange a make-up); and
  4. proof that a final exam is actually being given in the other course(s)—a copy of the syllabus or a note from the instructor (because listing of a final in the official schedule does not necessarily mean one is being given!); and
  5. contact information for the instructor(s) in the other course(s).

Your Math 131 instructor will verify the information and forward it to the Course Chair. Then your instructor or the Course Chair will notify you about the time and place of the make-up.

The make-up may have to be scheduled as late as the last day of final exams or an early date before the regular final exam. Should the make-up time also be a conflict, you will need to request an Incomplete and then take a special written make-up exam, prepared by your instructor, at the start of the next semester.

Notifying instructor of unexpected absence

In case of an emergency, medical problem, or other unusual circumstances that prevent you from taking a scheduled exam or doing other course work, contact your instructor, who will evaluate the reasons and determine whether and how to allow you to compensate for the absence.

To give prior notice of an unexpected absence from an exam or other class activity, you may:

  • see your instructor at a class meeting; or
  • go to your instructor’s office hours; or
  • phone or e-mail your instructor (contact information is on the instructor’s home page at the Mathematics and Statistics Department web site http://www.math.umass.edu); or
  • leave a message in your instructor’s mailbox in LGRT 1623D; or
  • phone the Mathematics and Statistics Department at 545-2762 or, when there is no answer outside business hours, leave voice mail; or
  • use one of the methods above to contact your TA.

If due to the nature of the emergency you yourself are unable to make contact by one of these methods, ask a friend or family member to do it for you.

If an emergency forces you to leave campus for at least a week, it is best to notify the Dean of Students (413-545-2684), who will verify the details and notify the instructors of all affected courses.

Religious observance

If you will be absent from an exam or other Math 131 class activity because of religious observance, you must notify your instructor in writing, in advance of the absence, and at the beginning of the semester—within one full week of your enrollment in the course.

Special accommodation

If you need special exam accommodation, you must present documentation from Disability Services to your lecture section instructor no later than two weeks before the first exam for which the accommodation is required. Then it is your responsibility to contact directly the Coordinator for Exam Proctoring and Classroom Access, Office of Disability Services, about taking the exam. Disability Services will administer the exam to you during a time block that significantly overlaps the regular administration of the exam; typically this will be 5:00–9:00 p.m.

If you need other forms of special accommodation, e.g., for quizzes or the classroom situation, you should present documentation to your lecture section instructor.

Drops, Withdrawals, and Incompletes

The last day to drop with no record, or to submit a Pass/Fail option, please see Schedule page. If you intend to drop, please do so as soon as possible; others may be waiting to enroll in your section. The last day to drop with a W, please see Schedule page.

An Incomplete is possible only if: (1) you had a compelling personal reason, e.g., serious illness; (2) your work has clearly been passing; and (3) there’s a good chance you’ll complete the course with a passing grade within the allotted time. Thus, failing work is no reason in itself for an Incomplete.

Copyright notice

Many of the materials created for this course are the intellectual property of the instructors. These include, but are not limited to, the syllabus, lectures, printed handouts, and materials on the course web site and section web sites whose intellectual ownership is not otherwise indicated. Except to the extent not protected by copyright law, any use, distribution, or sale of such materials  in any format—printed or electronic—requires the permission of the instructor. It is a violation of University policy to reproduce, for distribution or sale, class lectures or class notes, unless copyright has been explicitly waived by the faculty member.

Course chair

Dr. Jinguo Lian, lian<at>math.umass.edu, LGRT 1028, phone 545-6016.