Mathematics of Investment AS/MA 2580.06 1997-98 Sections A and B
Professor Donald H. Pelletier N506 Ross 736-5250, ext 33339
email address:

Degree Credit exclusion: Math 2280.03, Theory of Interest. For students in the Actuarial Mathematics stream of the Honours Mathematics for Commerce programme, Math 2280.03 is required in place of Math 2580.06.

Textbook and supplies: Mathematics of Finance, 4th edition, by P. Zima and R.L. Brown. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, publisher. This is a hardback and is available in the York bookstore. The course will cover all of this text. Caution: McGraw-Hill Ryerson also publishes in its Schaum's Outline series another book by the same authors with the same title; this is NOT our textbook. Another essential item is a basic scientific calculator with the ability to compute logarithms, exponentials, reciprocals, and powers.

Homework: Throughout the year, the everyday homework assignment is to do as many of the problems from the textbook as you find necessary to develop your understanding of the course material. These are not to be submitted nor graded; they should be viewed as practice for the tests which will contain, for the most part but not exclusively, questions very similar to those from the text. I will occasionally make specific suggestions concerning problems to do or to avoid. The back of the textbook contains the answers to all the numerical problems so it is quite practical to work on your own or together in small groups. Also, several copies of a complete solutions manual are available at the reserve desk in Steacie library.

Excel: A component of the course is devoted to an introduction to the use of spreadsheets for financial calculations. We will be using Microsoft's EXCEL which functions on both the IBM and Macintosh platforms. Some sessions will be devoted to demonstrations of this software in class but students will be expected to work on their own in the microcomputer laboratories that are scattered throughout the Steacie Science building (T107, T107A, T128, and 014), some of which are open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. The software manuals for EXCEL are on 2-hour reserve at the desk in Steacie library;. but you should rarely need these because the program itself has substantial on-line help files. To access these programs, you will require a personal "Steacie Lab account", also known as an "ACADLABS" account because this is the name of the server on which EXCEL resides. To obtain such an account, follow the instructions on the one-page handout available at the Computing Help Services desk in Steacie. Note that this account is different from your e-mail account.

Tests and exams: There will be a fifty-minute in-class test each term, typically in late October or early November in the fall term and in late February or early March in the winter term. There will be a 3-hour mid-year test during the December examination period and a 3-hour final exam during the April examination period common to both sections of the course. All these will be "open-book". Copies of exams from prior years have been posted on ACADLABS and can be accessed from your Steacie Lab computer account. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no control over the precise scheduling of the mid-year and final exams; they are required and you must be prepared for them to fall on any date within the official exam periods: December 8-22, 1997 and April 11-30, 1998.

Grades: The official grades at York University are LETTER grades. Qualitative descriptions of these grades can be found in the York Calendar. (See page 17 of the current York University Calendar.) Your test marks will be on a numerical scale because these have to be weighted and averaged in various ways, but THERE IS NO AUTOMATIC PREDETERMINED CORRELATION BETWEEN NUMERICAL GRADES AND LETTER GRADES in this course. In particular, the "numerical" grades you receive are NOT to be interpreted as percentages. The median letter grade in Math 2580 has been, for the past several years, between C and C+. Prior to the deadline for dropping the course without academic penalty (Saturday, February 14, 1998) you will be informed of your current "hypothetical" letter grade; it is essentially the grade you would have received for the Fall term alone had Mathematics 2580 been divided into two half-courses.

Grading Scheme: Option 1) Each of the in-class term tests is worth 15%, the mid-year exam given during the December examination period is worth 30%, and the final exam given during the April examination period is worth 40%. The basic material on spreadsheets will be covered with questions on one or more of these tests and exams. Option 2) Some students may wish to devote more time to the spreadsheet component of the course. It will be possible to do a computer project (most likely in March) that students may choose, ON A STRICTLY OPTIONAL BASIS, to substitute for a yet-to-be-determined part of their grade.

Policy on missed tests or exams: Absolutely no make-ups will be given. Students who are absent from the mid-year or the final exam without a properly documented medical reason receive a grade of zero. Absence from the two class tests, however, will be tolerated with no documentation required; the missed marks will be "forwarded" to future exams. If the Fall-term class test worth 15% is missed, the weight of the December exam will be 45% instead of 30%; if the Winter term class test is missed, the final exam is worth 55% instead of 40%.

Dates and deadlines: Last day to enrol without approval of the course director --- Sat. Sept. 20; last day to enrol with the written approval of the course director --- Friday Oct. 17; last day to withdraw from the course without receiving a grade --- Sat. Feb. 14, 1998. Reading Week is from February 16 through 22.

Problem sessions: The problem sessions begin the week of Sept. 15. A student from any section of Math 2580 may attend any one or more of the problem sessions. A complete schedule of times and locations will be announced later.

Office hours: Feel free to drop in at my office any time; I have no objection to unscheduled meetings; but if you wish to be certain to find me, however, it is best to set up an appointment by speaking with me before or after class or by sending me an email message.

Course home page on WWW: For the purpose of general announcements, we will eventually have a home page for the course but it will not be frequently used since our primary electronic source for course material is ACADLABS. It can be reached from the Mathematics Department's home page which is at