I am teaching a one-semester discrete math course this coming semester and I am having trouble finding a textbook appropriate for the structure of the course I plan to teach. My school currently is using Mathematical Structures for Computers Science by Judith Gersting, but this book is too long for a one-semester course.

Most textbooks that I've seen begin with a section on formal logic then the rest of the textbook consists of applications of this formal logic to sequences, series, graphs, matrices, etc. I have some reservations about this approach; the biggest being that for me personally, I learn best by building intuition through examples then learning the (more dry) theory afterwards.

I am currently looking at Fundamentals of Discrete Math for Computer Science by Jenkyns and Stephenson. I really like their approach to the subject, but I also have some concerns about their exposition. Many of the motivating examples have bawdy humor and mildly inappropriate remarks that remind the reader that computer science, historically, is a 'Boys Club.' I am worried about these remarks putting off students who are underrepresented in the subject. One particular example is:

"Throughout this text, we have written about algorithms - methods for doing computations or processing data. \\not algorithms to tie your shores or find the G-spot" (page 405).

Similar examples are scattered throughout the book.

I have two questions:

  1. Does anybody have any suggestions for books that are similar in organization to Jenkyns and Stephenson, but are more sensitive to issues of representation in STEM fields?

  2. If not, what strategies could I use to teach around these problematic aspects of the book?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't know whether this helps you out: Mathematics for Computer Science . $\endgroup$
    – poyea
    May 27, 2018 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Complete course note is available on their site. I think they managed to strike a balance between theories and examples. It seems that the course is an introductory one, so I'll suggest you have a look on that. $\endgroup$
    – poyea
    May 27, 2018 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


Look at lecture notes by Edward A. Bender and S. Gill Williamson. This material is available in several forms (web, free pdf downloads, Dover) at cseweb.ucsd.edu/~gill/BWLectSite.

I don't know whether this material is organized as you wish or whether it teaches around the problematic aspects you note, but you might find it useful.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for linking this resource. I really like the topics covered etc. but they still do a formal treatment of logic instead of building intuition for proofs and such via algorithms. $\endgroup$
    – dbossaller
    May 28, 2018 at 17:27

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