Math 541, Lecture 001: Modern Algebra

Lectures: Mon/Wed/Fri, 9:55 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. in Birge Hall 346.

Instructor: Michael Brown

  • Office: Van Vleck Hall 407
  • Email:

  • Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., Wednesdays 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. If you can't make it to my office hours, feel free to email me to set up another time to meet.

    Textbook: Abstract Algebra, by Dummit and Foote, Third Edition, 2004.

    Here is the official syllabus. But everything you need to know about the course is on this webpage.

    Description: This is an introductory course in modern algebra. Fundamental objects in modern algebra such as groups, rings, and fields will be introduced. There will also be a focus on learning to write proofs.


    Weekly problem sets will be posted here. Homework will not be graded, but there will be weekly quizzes based on the homework.

  • Homework 1

  • Homework 2

  • Homework 3

  • Homework 4

  • Practice Exam 1

  • Homework 5

  • Homework 6

  • Homework 7

  • Homework 8

  • Practice Exam 2

  • Homework 9

  • Homework 10

  • Practice Final

  • Quizzes

    There will be a quiz at the beginning of class every Friday, starting February 2 (except weeks during which we have an exam, and April 27). The quizzes will consist of one problem from the previous week's homework. There will be 10 quizzes, but only your 9 highest scores will be counted when determining your final grade.

    There will be two midterms given in class and one final exam. All exams are closed book and closed notes. No make-up exams will be given. If you have a university-sanctioned excuse for missing an exam, it is your responsibility to contact me as soon as possible about this (at least two weeks before the exam date). In the case of a last-minute medical or family emergency, you should first contact the dean of students.


    This course will have a Piazza site; it is accessible through Canvas. This is a good place to ask questions about the homework, or general logistical questions about the course. Questions can be answered by other students or by me, and the answers will be visible to all students.

    When asking questions, it is essential that you are precise and that you give as much context as possible. For instance, rather than asking: "I'm stuck on Homework Problem 4", explain what you've tried and where exactly you got stuck.

    Outline of Course

    My current plan is to cover the following sections of the textbook: 0.1 - 0.3, 1.1 - 1.3, 1.6, 2.1 - 2.4, 3.1 - 3.3, 3.5, 4.1 - 4.3, 5.5, 7.1 - 7.4, and a selection of topics from Chapters 8 and 13. But this is subject to change.

    Honors Students

    Students taking the course with an honors component will be expected to do some additional reading (Section 4.5) and complete an additional problem set (which will be posted below later). Solutions to these problems will not be handed in; instead, we'll meet one-on-one, and I'll ask you to write out solutions to a selection of these problems on a chalkboard. This meeting will take roughly 30 minutes, and it will be scheduled sometime in April. Whether or not you earn honors credit for the course will depend on the extent to which you demonstrate to me during this meeting that you've understood these problems and their solutions.

    You might find these problems challenging. I encourage you to start working on them early and to meet with me if you're having trouble solving them.
    1. Additional reading: Section 4.5.

    2. Honors Assignment


    Course grades will be determined as follows: