Engineering Probability Syllabus
Table of contents
This is the syllabus for ENGR2500 Engineering Probability, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Spring 2018.
1 Catalog description
ENGR2500 Engineering Probability
Axioms of probability, joint and conditional probability, random variables, probability density, mass, and distribution functions, functions of one and two random variables, characteristic functions, sequences of independent random variables, central limit theorem, and laws of large numbers. Applications to electrical and computer engineering problems.
Prerequisites/Corequisites: Corequisite: ECSE 2410.
When Offered: Fall and spring terms annually.
Credit Hours: 3.
CRN: 53852.
2 Course Goals / Objectives
To understand basic probability theory and statistical analysis and be able to apply them to modeling typical computer and electrical engineering problems such as noisy signals, decisions in the presence of uncertainty, pattern recognition, network traffic, and digital communications.
3 Student Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:
 Be able to apply basic probability theory.
 Be able to apply concepts of probability to model typical computer and electrical engineering problems.
 Be able to evaluate the performance of engineering systems with uncertainty.
4 Instructors
4.1 Professor
W. Randolph Franklin. BSc (Toronto), AM, PhD (Harvard)
Office: 
Jonsson Engineering Center (JEC) 6026 

Phone: 
+1 (518) 2766077 (forwards) 
Email: 
Email is my preferred communication medium. Sending from a nonRPI account is fine (and is what I may do). However, please use an account that shows your name, at least in the comment field. A subject prefix of #Prob is helpful. GPG encryption is welcomed. 
Web:  
Office hours: 
After each lecture, usually as long as anyone wants to talk. Also by appointment. 
Informal meetings:  
If you would like to lunch with me, either individually or in a group, just mention it. We can then talk about most anything legal and ethical. 
4.2 Teaching assistants
 Who:
 Yi Fan fany4ATRPIDOTEDU.
 Amelia Peterson petera7ATRPIDOTEDU.
 Jieyu Chen chenj35ATRPIDOTEDU (undergrad assistant).
 Office hours:
 ECSE Flip Flop lounge in JEC 6037.
 times TBD
 They will try to stay as long as there are students asking questions, but will leave after 15 minutes if no one has arrived.
 If you need more time, or a different time, then write them.
5 Computer usage
5.1 Course wiki
This current page https://wrf.ecse.rpi.edu/Teaching/probabilitys2018/ has lecture summaries, syllabus, homeworks, etc.
5.2 Piazza
Piazza for discussion and questions.
5.3 LMS
RPI LMS will be used only for you to submit homeworks and for us to distribute grades.
5.4 Iclickers
Iclickers will be used in class for attendance and to give the prof feedback.
5.5 Matlab
Matlab may be used for computations.
6 Textbooks etc

LeonGarcia, Probability, Statistics, and Random Processes for Electrical Engineering, 3rd Ed., Pearson/PrenticeHall, 2008. ISBN 9780131471221.
Why I picked it (in spite of the price):
 It is a good book.
 This is the same book as we've used for several years.
 This book is used at many other universities because it is good. Those courses' lecture notes are sometimes online, if you care to look.

Schaum's Outline of Probability and Statistics, 4th Edition: 897 Solved Problems + 20 Videos. by John J. Schiller Jr. (Author), R. Alu Srinivasan (Author), Murray R. Spiegel (Author). ISBN13: 9780071795579 on Amazon.
Highly recommended for working problems. I may use problems from it.

There is also a lot of web material on probability.
7 Class times & places
 Mon & Thurs, 45:20pm, in Darrin 337.
 I intend no class activities outside the scheduled times, except for a possible final exam review, a day or two before the exam.
 You may miss classes. However you are still responsible for knowing what happened.
 However, important announcements will be posted on the web.
 Except when some equipment fails, I post an copy of everything that I write in class.
 You may use computers etc in class if you don't disturb others.
 I welcome short questions, if the answers are also short.
8 Assessment measures, i.e., grades
You are welcome to put copies of exams and homeworks in test banks, etc, if they are free to access. However since I put everything online, it's redundant.
8.1 Iclickers
Iclickers will be worth a little.
8.2 Exams
 There will be a total of three exams of which the two best count towards the final grade.
 Dates: Mon Feb 26, Thu Mar 29.
 You may bring one 2sided lettersize cheat sheet to the first exam, 2 sheets to the second, and 3 sheets to the third.
 There are no makeup exams, as the one of the exams can be dropped.
8.3 Homework
 Homework will be assigned every 710 days.
 Submit your completed homework assignments in LMS as PDF files by midnight on the due date. (This is different from last fall.)
 Late homeworks receive a 50% reduction of the points if the homework is less than 24hrs late.
 Homeworks will not be accepted more than 24hrs late except in cases of an excused absences.
 Homework keys will be posted.
 The homework sets can be done in groups of up to two students, as follows:
 One student submits the homework, including the names of all the group members.
 The other student submits a brief note saying, "I'm with Joe Smith smithj34@rpi.edu".
 The makeup of the groups is allowed to change from one homework set to the next.
 Each member of a group working on a homework set will receive the same grade for this homework.
 Some homework questions will be recycled as exam questions.
 We will drop the lowest homework.
8.4 Participation in Discussion Forum
The class will make use of the Piazza class discussion system.
If you have questions about a particular item discussed in class or the homeworks then check if this question has already been posted and answered here. If not, then please post your question. If the question does not get answered then see the instructor. The reason for this procedure is that posting questions helps you organize your thoughts, but also that other students can learn a lot from thinking about your question and answering it. The instructor and TA will also monitor this forum and provide feedback. Piazza participation is determined by your activity level, including questions asked, questions answered, posts viewed and days online. This is measured at different times during the semester. The total number of points is then divided between your participation at these times. This implies that and excessive contribution at the end of the semester will not compensate for no participation during the rest of the semester.
8.5 Bonus knowitall points
 You can earn an extra point by giving me a pointer to interesting material on the web, good enough to post on the class wiki.
 Occasionally I make mistakes, either in class or on the web site. The first person to correct each nontrival error will receive an extra point on his/her grade.
 One person may accumulate several of these knowitall points.
8.6 Weights and cutoffs
Component  Weight 

All the homeworks together  20% 
Iclickers  10% 
Piazza participation  10% 
Top 2 of the 3 exams (each)  30% 
Even if the homeworks be out of different numbers of points, they will be normalized so that each homework has the same weight, except that the lowest homework will be dropped.
Percentage grade  Letter grade 

>=95.0%  A 
>=90.0%  A 
>=85.0%  B+ 
>=80.0%  B 
>=75.0%  B 
>=70.0%  C+ 
>=65.0%  C 
>=60.0%  C 
>=55.0%  D+ 
>=50.0%  D 
>=0%  F 
However, if that causes the class average to be lower than the prof and TA feel that the class deserves, based on how hard students appeared to work, then the criteria will be eased.
8.7 Grade distribution & verification
 We'll post homework grading comments on LMS. We'll return graded midterm exams in class.
 If you disagree with a grade, then
 report it within one week,
 in writing,
 emailed to the TA, with a copy to the prof.
 From time to time, we'll post your grades to LMS. Please report any missing grades within one week to the TA, with a copy to the prof.
 It is not allowed to wait until the end of the semester, and then go back 4 months to try to find extra points.
 We maintain standards (and the value of your diploma) by giving the grades that are earned, not the grades that are desired. Nevertheless, this course's average grade is competitive with other courses.
 Appeal, in writing, first to the TA, then to the prof, to another prof acting as mediator if you wish, and then to the ECSE Head.
8.8 Midsemester assessment
After the midterm, and before the drop date, we will compute an estimate of your performance to date.
8.9 Early warning system (EWS)
As required by the Provost, we may post notes about you to EWS, for example, if you're having trouble doing homeworks on time, or miss an exam. E.g., if you tell me that you had to miss a class because of family problems, then I may forward that information to the Dean of Students office.
9 Academic integrity
 See the Student Handbook for the general policy. The summary is that students and faculty have to trust each other. After you graduate, your most important possession will be your reputation.
Specifics for this course are as follows.
 You may collaborate on homeworks, but each team people must write up the solution separately (one writeup per team) using their own words. We willingly give hints to anyone who asks.
 The penalty for two teams handing in identical work is a zero for both.
 Writing assistance from the Writing Center and similar sources in allowed, if you acknowledge it.
 The penalty for plagiarism is a zero grade.
 You must not communicate with other people or machines, exchange notes, or use electronic aids like computers and PDAs during exams.
 The penalty is a zero grade on the exam.
 Cheating will be reported to the Dean of Students Office.
10 Students with special accommodations
Please send me your authorizing memo at least a week before the exam.
11 Student feedback
Since it's my desire to give you the best possible course in a topic I enjoy teaching, I welcome feedback during (and after) the semester. You may tell me or write me or the TAs, or contact a third party, such as Prof Mike Wozny, the ECSE Dept head.