Math 312: Introduction to Number Theory
Section 101, Fall 2011
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Course Information

Where: Math 104
When: MWF 11-12
Course web page:
Textbook: Rosen, Elementary Number Theory
Instructor: Prof. M. Bennett
Office: Math 220
Office hours: MWF 10-11 am
Email address:
Phone number: 822-2251

This course will be a gentle introduction to the basic concepts of number theory: prime numbers, factorization, and congruences.  Using these concepts we will be able to investigate such diverse topics as 2,000-year-old word problems, "casting out nines" to check arithmetical calculations, perpetual calendars, and the Pythagorean Theorem.  A highlight of the course will be a thorough discussion of the RSA (public key) cryptography system, which is still widely used by government and industry.  By the end of the course, students will be able to understand what the RSA system is, how it works, and why it is so difficult to crack.

Use of the Web

All homework assignments and other course materials will be posted on the course web page, handouts will be distributed in class.

Every enrolled student will be given an account on the Mathematics department undergraduate computer lab located in the MSRC building.  The computer lab is open 24 hours a day.  As part of your account, you will have a quota of 100 pages of free printouts.  You may also access the course web page on any public terminal at UBC, or via your own internet connection.

All documents will be posted in PDF format and can be read with the free Acrobat reader.  This software is already installed on the computers in the Math lab.  You may also download the free Acrobat reader at no cost.


There will be two midterm exams and one final exam as well as weekly homework assignments. The course mark will be computed as follows: You are required to be present at all examinations.  No makeup tests will be given.  Non-attendance at an exam will result in a mark of zero being recorded.  Unavoidable, documented medical emergencies are the only exception to this policy.

Homework will be assigned on Fridays and due the following Friday in class. Late homework will not be accepted. Students are allowed to consult one another concerning the homework problems, but your submitted solutions must be written by you in your own words. If two students submit virtually identical answers to a question, both can be found guilty of plagiarism. The lowest assignment grade will be dropped.

Course syllabus

We will cover a variety of standard topics in Number theory and will, if time permits, touch on additional themes such as deterministic primality testing and Diophantine equations.

Mike Bennett /
Last modified: September 7th, 2011