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This is the course home page for ECSE-2500 Engineering Probability, Spring 2010, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY, USA.

New material will be posted near the top of this page, then moved further down or off to another page.


Grades were submitted to SIS and the detailed calculations emailed to each of you on May 24. Then a correction was mailed.

Final exam notes

  1. Here is the final exam. Sorry I didn't get around to posting it yesterday. Here is a (messy) solution. (updated 12/20/2010).
  2. Updated final_review.pdf, final_review_soln.pdf
  3. hw9sol.pdf online.
  4. For last minute questions, An will have extended office hours Wed at 10.
  5. The review was Mon 7-9pm in Sage3303. (This time was picked by the last last Tues.)
  6. You may bring 3 2-sided 8.5"x11" note sheets, a calculator, and blank paper.
  7. The questions will look like examples discussed in class and homeworks.
  8. A problem that caused a lot of trouble may reappear.
  9. After the exam is graded, you may look at your graded exam and copy it if you want. We keep the original for a year at least.

After the semester

In the future, even after graduation, feel free to ask me questions (and express opinions) on any reasonable topic. No charge.

Quickest way to get to this course page

Google rpi wrf ep .

Lecture summaries

Date Summary
Thu May 20 final exam, 3-6pm, DCC Darrin 330
Tue May 11 Lecture 25
Fri May 7 Lecture 24
Tue May 4 Lecture 23.
Fri Apr 30 Lecture 22.
Tue Apr 27 Homework 9 available. Lecture 21.
Fri Apr 23 Lecture 20.
Tue Apr 20 Lecture 19.
Fri Apr 16 Lecture 18.
Tue Apr 13 Homework 8 available. Lecture 17.
Fri Apr 9 Rescheduled midterm Exam 2. It will cover chapters 3 and 4. A review will be held on April 5. Exam 2 answers.
Tue Apr 6 Class cancelled because of campus lockdown.
Fri Apr 2 Lecture 16.
Tue Mar 30 Homework 7 available. Lecture 15.
Fri Mar 26 Lecture 14.
Tue Mar 23 Homework 6 available. Lecture 13.
13. Fri Mar 19 Lecture 12.
12. Tue Mar 16 Homework 5 available. Lecture 11.
11. Fri Mar 5 Lecture 10.
10. Tue Mar 2 Exam 1 with answers.
9. Fri Feb 26 Lecture 9.
8. Tue Feb 23 Lecture 8.
7. Fri Feb 19 Homework 4 available. Lecture 7.
6. Fri Feb 12 Homework 3 available. Lecture 6.
5: Tue Feb 9 Homework 3 available. Lecture 5.
4: Fri Feb 5 Lecture 4.
3: Tue Feb 2 Homework 2 available. Lecture 3.
2: Fri Jan 29 Finish chapter 1; start chapter 2. Lecture 2.
1: Tue Jan 26 Intro. Homework 1 available. Lecture 1.


There will be several homeworks. You are encouraged to help each other think up the answers, but you must write up the homeworks independently.

Due Questions Solution
Feb 2 Homework 1 hw1sol.pdf
Feb 9 Homework 2 hw2sol.pdf
Feb 19 Homework 3 hw3sol.pdf
Feb 23 Homework 4 hw4sol.pdf
March 23 Homework 5 hw5sol.pdf
March 30 Homework 6 hw6sol.pdf
April 6 Homework 7 hw7sol.pdf
April 20 Homework 8 hw8sol.pdf
May 4 7 Homework 9 hw9sol.pdf

You will hand in the homeworks on paper at the start of class on the due date. Please make sure your work is legible - why annoy the grader? Print your name, RCS ID, date, and handin title (e.g., homework 1).


(:GoogleCalendar calendar=l97fua6kgvlagtdaq45gkvaqvo@group.calendar.google.com title="ECSE-2500 Spring 2010, RPI" width=1000 height=700 :)

Office hours and TAs

  1. Each class is attended by a TA, who can answer specific questions about that class. Currently, An Jin, jina@rpi.edu , attends class each Tues, and Yang Hu, huy5@rpi.edu , each Fri. However, both TAs can answer any question about the textbook material.
  2. TA office hours:
    • Mon 6:30-7pm in JEC 6027, Yang Hu, huy5@rpi.edu, also attends class Fri
    • Wed 10-10:30am in JEC6027, An Jin, jina@rpi.edu, also attends class Tues
    If there are students there at 10:30, they will stay as long as necessary to help them. If there is a demand, we will add extra times. We will add a formal review before each exam.
  3. Both TAs are accessible by email and are available to meet students individually outside of the official hours at mutually convenient times.
  4. I stay around after most classes as long as anyone wants to talk.

Grades emailed again on 3/14

On March 14, we emailed again all of you our version of your grades for the first 4 homeworks and 1st exam. If you did not receive this, or found an error, please email the TAs and me during the week after spring break. Thanks.

These were the original emails resent, so they do not reflect any grade changes.

Yang's 3/1 review questions

from the 3/1 review. exam1review.pdf

Midterm 1 details

  1. Calculators are allowed.
  2. The 1st midterm will contain material only from chapters 1 and 2.
  3. The questions will be based on examples from the text covered in class and on questions assigned as homeworks.
  4. There will be a review session 6-7pm Monday evening in DCC324, and extra office hours 6-7pm Sunday in JEC6115, in addition to the regular office hour Monday morning.
  5. The exam will be closed book.
  6. Bring one 2-sided crib sheet. Either handwritten or printed is ok.
  7. The intention is not to make the exam a speed contest. Most people should finish well before 3:20.
  8. There will be no exam question like 2.72 from the book.


Older material, which you mayn't want to review often, from this course home page was moved here on 2/19/2010.

About the campus lockdown and the midterm

  1. There will be no Engineering Probability class today April 6.
  2. The homework will be due Friday.
  3. Midterm 2 will be in class on Friday.
  4. At the end of the semester, if the average of your final exam and midterm 1 (weighted equally) is larger than your midterm 2 grade, then that average will replace your midterm 2 grade. Therefore midterm 2 is effectively optional.
  5. I will be at NSF in the DC area for the rest of the week. However, the TAs are available for more last minute help.


More midterm 2 details

  1. An Jin prepared these: Midterm2_review_questions.pdf and Midterm2_review_solutions.pdf .
    4/6/10: small correction uploaded.
  2. If you email me before the test, I'll try to answer, but the question and answer will probably be posted here publicly. (This is how some government agencies handle questions about open solicitations. The intent is to be helpful, since that leads to better proposals leading to better work being done, but also to be impartial, since federal taxpayer money is involved.)
  3. Student X asked whether the characteristic function would be on the test. Yes, both that and the probability generating function, since I spent time on them. A possible question might be to compute the characteristic function of some simple distribution. Another possible question might be to compute a distribution's mean if I give you its characteristic function. However, any required computation would be simple.

Opportunity to get $50-$100 CASH for participating in an on-campus project

The following announcement may be of interest to the class, although it is not related to the course. /WRF

You'll get hands on experience with website design and development, working on a site with an assigned partner for a real non-profit. This is a great resume builder, especially if you win one of the prizes, an easy way to get a portfolio piece, and also a great way to learn a bit about academic research by becoming a participant.

We are looking for all undergraduates, any major, with a very basic knowledge of web design and/or development, who are able to spend 10 hours on campus over the week of April 19-April 25. Remember, you do NOT have to be a web guru to participate!

You get $50 cash for completing the 10 hours, and if your project is chosen as one of the best, you will win an additional $50 cash.

To Sign Up and to learn more, go to http://amandarotondo.blogspot.com/ BY APRIL 9th and take about 10-15 minutes to complete the TWO quick surveys needed to enroll.

Midterm 2 details

  1. Calculators are allowed.
  2. The 2nd midterm will contain material mostly from chapters 3 and 4, with perhaps something from 1 and 2.
  3. The questions will be based on examples from the text covered in class and on questions assigned as homeworks.
  4. An will hold a review session 6-7pm 7-9pm Monday evening in Low (CII) 3051.
  5. Yang will hold her regular office hours Mon 6:30-7, and also an extra session Tues 11-noon in JEC6027.
  6. The exam will be closed book.
  7. Bring two 2-sided crib sheets. Either handwritten or printed is ok.
  8. The intention is not to make the exam a speed contest. Most people should finish well before 3:20.

Grades emailed on 3/30 and 3/31

Please report any problems, such as that you didn't receive them.

On the earlier email, I had incorrectly listed the total points for homework 3 as 20. It's 50.