Discrete Mathematics - MA549

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR CF Woodcock


For delivery to students completing Stage 1 before September 2016:
Pre-requisite: MA322 (Proofs and Numbers), MA323 (Matrices and Probability) or MA326 (Matrices and Computing), and MA553 (Linear Algebra)
Recommended: MA565 (Groups and Rings)
Co-requisite: None

For delivery to students completing Stage 1 after September 2016:
Pre-requisite: MAST4001 (Algebraic Methods) or MAST4005 (Linear Mathematics)
Co-requisite: None





Discrete mathematics has found new applications in the encoding of information. Online banking requires the encoding of information to protect it from eavesdroppers. Digital television signals are subject to distortion by noise, so information must be encoded in a way that allows for the correction of this noise contamination. Different methods are used to encode information in these scenarios, but they are each based on results in abstract algebra. This module will provide a self-contained introduction to this general area of mathematics.
Syllabus: Modular arithmetic, polynomials and finite fields. Applications to
• orthogonal Latin squares,
• cryptography, including introduction to classical ciphers and public key ciphers such as RSA,
• "coin-tossing over a telephone",
• linear feedback shift registers and m-sequences,
• cyclic codes including Hamming,


This module appears in:

Contact hours


Method of assessment

80% Examination, 20% Coursework

Indicative reading

N L Biggs, Discrete Mathematics, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2002
D Welsh, Codes and Cryptography, Oxford University Press, 1988
R Hill, A First Course in Coding Theory, Oxford University Press, 1980

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the level 6 module students will be able to:
1 demonstrate systematic understanding of key aspects of the theory and practice of finite fields and their application to Latin squares, cryptography, m-sequences and cyclic codes;
2 demonstrate the capability to deploy established approaches accurately to analyse and solve problems using a reasonable level of skill in calculation and manipulation of the material in the following areas: modular arithmetic, factorising polynomials, construction of finite fields, Latin squares, classical and public key ciphers including RSA, m-sequences and cyclic codes;
3 apply key aspects of discrete mathematics in well-defined contexts, showing judgement in the selection and application of tools and techniques.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the level 6 module students will be able to:
1 manage their own learning and make use of appropriate resources;
2 understand logical arguments, identifying the assumptions made and the conclusions drawn;
3 communicate straightforward arguments and conclusions reasonably accurately and clearly;
4 manage their time and use their organisational skills to plan and implement efficient and effective modes of working;
5 solve problems relating to qualitative and quantitative information;
6 make competent use of information technology skills such online resources (Moodle), internet communication;
7 communicate technical material competently;
8 demonstrate an increased level of skill in numeracy and computation;
9 demonstrate the acquisition of the study skills needed for continuing professional development.

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