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Other A in Discrete Math 1, Lost in Discrete 2.

  1. Jan 24, 2017 #1
    Hey everyone,

    Pardon the novel of a post.

    Short story:
    Got an 'A' in Discrete 1 (proof methods) using Epp's book at community college with an easier professor (the only offering for that course), and I'm understanding nothing to very little amount of information in Discrete 2 (computational, graph theory, etc. -- essentially a continuation of discrete 1 after proofs)using Rosen's book at university with a substitute professor who normally teaches freshman level math courses for the next 8 weeks. Should I drop and retake discrete 1 with Rosen's book at university, or continue?

    Long story:
    During Fall 2016 I took Discrete 1 which covered an introduction to formal logic, direct proofs, mathematical induction proofs, and some basic counting technique (pigeonhole, sum/product, inclusion/exclusion, etc.). I got an 'A' in the course without really trying. It was by far the most enjoyable math class I had. I loved doing proofs. With my other courses I didn't have much time to complete extra material, so I was doing whatever the professor assigned, and that was it. I, in part, think this professor may have been a little too easy but he was the only one at my local community college to teach it.

    This semester at my university I am taking discrete 2. This course covers counting, graph theory, etc. It's essentially a continuation of discrete 1. However, this class uses a different book. At my CC we used Epp, and in this class we use Rosen. My professor is also out and they have an adjunct who normally teaches freshman level classes teaching this course since it's at a satellite campus. I am barely getting through this material. I can't understand the books derivations, solutions, and most of the time I don't even understand what the questions are asking. I've referenced Epp's text which made a lot more sense, and the problems seemed a lot easier over the same topics. Nearly every problem I've completed I've had to use chegg solutions, or look in the back of the book just to get an idea of what the question was asking.

    That said, I'm really at a loss with what I should do. I live in Texas so I have this week to withdraw or I recieve a 'W' and the state of Texas punishes you for taking 'W'. That is, after a certain amount of W's you have to pay out of state tuition -- which I can't afford, so I have to drop by this week, if I drop. My question is, would it perhaps be worthwhile retaking Discrete 1 at University using Rosen's book?

    I'm not sure what the issue is or why I'm struggling so much with the text. Even over topics we covered in discrete 1, like pigeonhole and counting. I'm talking to the adjunct today as well as an academic advisor, but I'd like to know if this ramp up in difficulty is typical in discrete courses, or if it's likely due to other circumstances.

    Normally I wouldn't worry about it, since a C is passing, but being a CS major I know this topic is important and it's not just about a grade for me, but understanding and bettering myself in this field.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Its good you are on top of this issue. I would suggest dropping the course unless the prof can give you some insight and really help you along. It may be that you aren't yet ready to take this course. In any event dropping it means you can revisit it later on after having reviewed and discovered whats causing the hangups.

    Also I wouldn't say that this is a critical part of CS, I think a course in algorithms and data structures would be far more important. It's true, it would be useful though in software design where you might need to estimate size of some structure or how long something might take which would involve using discrete counting.
  4. Jan 24, 2017 #3
    Thanks for your response. Do you think it'd be worthwhile taking Discrete 1 again at the University using Rosen's book? My only hiccup on this is that it isn't offered at the satellite campus, so I'd have quite a commute... but if it's the difference between understanding the material and not then I'd consider it worth my time. There just seems to be a lot of factors in what could be causing the issue, so narrowing it down is difficult.
  5. Jan 26, 2017 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'd second dropping the course now while the option won't cost you.

    May I ask -- have you had a chance to look through MIT's "Math for CS"?


    The notes are great, and there's also videos, assignments and exams with solutions, etc. If dropping this course opens up time in your schedule -- and you have the interest / discipline to do self study-- I'd highly recommend working through some of the math for CS course. And if you don't have the time now, reading through the notes later is worthwhile.
  6. Jan 27, 2017 #5
    I tried taking a looking during the semester I was taking Discrete 1, but found the material didn't align well.

    My professor (not the adjunct) responded to an email I sent. I addressed the same concerns I have here. She said that she sits on the advising board at the community college as well, and has been trying to get them to change books and align the course work similar to the Universities because she agrees with me that the covered material is a lot different.

    However, she did make note that discrete math 2 covers completely different material and discrete 1 and can almost be taught as its own unique course. So while the former makes me feel justified in dropping (as I have), the latter makes me feel a little uncomfortable that I wasn't able to pick it up.

    Anyways, I plan on working through the new book over this semester with any downtime I have (she sent me the syllabus with the HW)... but I am also going to audit a discrete 1 course over the summer, and retake discrete 2 this coming fall. It pushes me back a semester for graduation, but hopefully it'll be worth it.
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