Course Syllabus

CMSC 250 - 020x

Discrete Structures



  • Instructor: Jason Filippou (
  • Office hours: Wed 10-2pm, AVW 3207.
  • Lectures: TuTh 12:30 - 1:45, ESJ 0202.



The following is a list of topics that we intend to cover. 

  • Logic
    • Propositional Logic
    • Circuits
    • Number bases
    • Predicates and quantifiers
  • Set Theory 
    • Basic definitions
    • Powerset, Cartesian Product
  • Number Theory and Proof techniques
    • Definitions  (parity, divisibility, modular arithmetic, prime factorization, floor / ceiling, rationality, ....).
    • Proof strategies (direct, indirect, universal and existential statements)
    • Famous proofs and open problems
  • Induction
    • Mathematical (weak, strong)
    • Structural (trees, sets, strings, graphs)
    • Constructive
  • Combinatorics
    • Permutations, combinations
    • Binomial Theorem, Pascal's Triangle, combinatorial proofs
    • Elementary discrete probability, conditional probability, Bayes Theorem
  • Optional (as time allows)
    • "Big-oh" (LaTeX: \mathcal{O}) notation
    • Functions, Relations


Discussion Sessions, Tutors, Graders, Office Hours

We have prepared a Google spreadsheet with available office hours of all CMSC250 sections (010x + 040x included), so you can get more help. If there is ever any need for a cancellation or a trade of office hours, you will be notified through ELMS and the update will also be reflected on that sheet.

Claiming an Excused Absence

If you were absent from a Major Scheduled Grading Event and your absence is excusable as per University Regulations (see below), please e-mail Jason Kuo so that he can compile a Doodle poll with the names of all people who are in need of a make-up. That way, we can find an appropriate time and room to help all of you simultaneously.

Description of Assignments

  1. Weekly homework assignments. There will be 1 (one) homework given out every week, on Mondays, with some exceptions (midterm weeks, thanksgiving). They will be uploaded on Gradescope, with a regular deadline of 1 week (so, the following Monday midnight) and 2 (two) more days for 50% credit. Weight:15%.
  2. Examinations. We will have 2 midterm exams and 1 final exam (see "Major Scheduled Grading Events" section below). They will be written in pen (or pencil) and paper and will be handed out to proctors after the exam time. Closed book. Weight: 25, 28 and 32% respectively.


Major Scheduled Grading Events

  • Midterm 1:Wednesday 10-10, 6-8pm, ESJ0202
  • Midterm 2:Wednesday 11-07, 6-8pm, ESJ0202
    • Final: Friday 12-14, 4-6pm. Rooms: ESJ0202 for last names A-M, SHM2102 for the rest. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FINAL IS FROM 4 (FOUR) TO 6 (SIX), WHEREAS THE MIDTERMS ARE FROM 6 (SIX) TO 8 (EIGHT)!

    University Course-Related Policies

      The University has packaged certain campus-wide "course-related policies" into a single centralized webpage. Every course is required to link to these policies, which cover very important elements such as:

      • Excused absences (what are your rights, what are our responsibilities), including dates of projected religious observance.
      • Disability accommodations on campus
      • Code of Student Conduct and matters pertaining to Academic Integrity.
      • Grade contesting.
      • Mid-Term ("Early Warning") grades

      We further specialize these policies as follows:

      • Exam (midterm or final) make-ups will be given only up to 1 (one) week after the date of the exam proper.
      • Regrade requests are submitted by you electronically once the exam's grades are published. You will have time to submit a regrade request within one week from the release of an assignment's grades. This is set automatically from Gradescope, and there are no exceptions to this rule.
      • VERY IMPORTANT: If from what you claim in your regrade request it seems you know LESS than we thought you can lose points. Here are two characteristic examples that really happened:

      (a) The problem asks for a prime between 50 and 60. The students answers 57 and gets a 0 (3 divides 57).The student's regrade request argues that 57 IS a prime and hence he deserves credit. He LOST 5 additional points, since 57 is not a prime LaTeX: (57 = 3 \ast 19)

      (b) The problem asks for a quantifier statement that is true in the integers but not in the naturals.The student writes:

      (\exists x)(\forall y)[ y\ge x]

      This is incorrect- its true in \mathbb{N}. The instructors had been incorrect in assuming it was a misread; the student proved to us that they knew less than what we thought.

      • Students needing ADS accommodations are requested to provide the instructor with the necessary ADS forms during the schedule adjustment period, detailed on this webpage as being the first 10 days of lecture.



      Our textbook this semester is:

      Susanna Epp, Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, 7th edition, Cengage, ISBN-13: 978-0495391326

      However, we do not require that you purchase the 4th edition of the book new (the cost of the hardcover can go all the way up to $350 through online retailers like Amazon). Consult the University Bookstore for more options.

      It is crucial for your success in 250 that you have access to the textbook because for some assignments and lectures there will be reading from the textbook itself (i.e not covered in lecture or discussion). 

      Uploading your homework assignments on Gradescope

      We only allow PDF format for the uploading of your homework assignments, which are uploaded on our Gradescope page (entry code:9NXE8D). The  description will also be supplied in PDF format, prepared with the document preparation system\LaTeX. We can think of four different ways to submit your homework assignments:

      1. \LaTeX("lah-tech") The best way to submit your assignments is to edit the provided\LaTeXsource files (which have the suffix .tex)and then convert them to PDF using pdflatex. This is because of the ease, aesthetic quality and modularity of mathematical formulae with \LaTeXTo help you out with learning\LaTeX, we have included several resources here. It has been observed anecdotally that people who learn \LaTeXtend to never, ever want to use another program to author documents ever again.
      2. Hand-Written scan: We will be printing hardcopies of the homeworks for you to snatch outside the instructor's office (AVW3207), if you would rather hand-write your response. Please do not simply take pictures of your homework from your phone! Instead, use an app like CamScanner, which crops, aligns and lights up your picture, making our (and our autograder's) life much easier.


      Here are some official tutoring services for you:

        • The Association of Women in Computing (AWC) is offering free "drop-in" tutoring for all of our intro courses. We will update this text when we have more information about their tutoring services this semester.
        • The Academic Success and Tutorial Services (ASTS) program offers complimentary tutoring for UMD students. To connect with a peer tutor for this course, sign up directly at For questions, contact Christal Dimas, Tutorial Coordinator for the Academic Achievement Programs (AAP) at or 301-405-4745.
        • The office of Learning Assistance Services, which is part of the Counseling Center of the University (link to their website), also offers free tutoring for UMD students. Their office is 2202 Shoemaker and their phone # is 301-314-7693. Their academic coaches can help with time management, reading, math learning skills, note-taking and exam preparation skills. They also offer practice midterms.

      Web accessibility

      Please navigate this official UMD accessibility link for the full spectrum of accessibility information in the UMD campus. ELMS-Canvas is highly tuned towards accessibility, offering automatic link checking, suggested color palettes, standardized HTML for screen readers, and so on and so forth. The course staff takes accessibility issues quite seriously; please e-mail us if you feel you would like some further assistance with accessing our course materials. Also, please go through this ELMS student orientation if you'd like some information about using the system.


      Weapons in class 

      Handguns, assault rifles, bazookas and other firearms that require an ignition mechanism to trigger are not allowed in class. This is also true of combat knives and other sharp items the intent of which are to injure or kill a human being or animal. Please consult the Maryland Firearm Safety Act of 2013 for more information on the subject of firearm laws in the state of Maryland.

      Course Summary:

      Date Details Due