Concepts of Probability

Stat 134 with Hank Ibser, Summer '21.



Hank Ibser


hankibser AT berkeley DOT edu


MTuW 2:30-3:30, Th 9-10

954 8041 7481


Probability, Jim Pitman. Students can view and download the text online at SpringerLink (campus network access required). An affordable paperback copy may also be purchased through this link.


Emails, zoom link and office hours of the GSIs available on the Staff page.


Mastery of the material in Appendices 1-4 of the text, fluency with calculus (derivatives and integrals) in two variables, and – these are crucial – clear logical reasoning and strong problem-solving skills. Test yourself on some practice problems.

Class Website:

The primary class website is This will contain staff info and HW; lecture notes and videos will be on bcourses.


There will be a student run Piazza site for this class. The top five student answerers (i.e. students who respond to other student’s questions) will get consideration to bump up their letter grades.

  • Assignments are posted on the Homework tab here. They are due by 11:59 pm on the day due (noted below) on Gradescope.

  • Homeworks will be graded on a 0-2 scale. Each assignment will consist of 8 problems. A good attempt at 6 or more problems will receive the score of 2; reader discretion will determine partial credit and what constitutes a "good attempt." We will be looking for reasoning and detailed work shown –it is assumed that you will show work or provide reasoning whether or not the question asks for it.

  • Your two lowest homework scores will be dropped from the computation of the homework component of your final grade.

  • No late homeworks will be accepted and cheating will not be tolerated. While you are encouraged to work with other people, you must write up your own solutions.

  • There will be 6 weekly quizzes at the end of each week except for the midterm week (4th week) and finals week (8th week). All quizzes and exams will have a 24 window on Gradescope in which to take the quiz/exam starting Thursdays 11pm. Quizzes will be 30 minutes, midterm 90 minutes, final 180 minutes.

  • Your lowest quiz score will be dropped from the computation of the quiz component of your final grade.

  • Midterm: Thursday/Friday July 15/16.

  • Final: Thursday/Friday August 12/13.

  • 10% Homework, 15% Quizzes, 25% Midterm, 50% Final

  • If you don’t take the final exam you will not pass the class.

    Your two lowest homework and your lowest quiz score will be dropped.

    The course is curved. Department guidelines and historical curves in the department give about 30% some kind of A, 30% some kind of B, 30% some kind of C, 10% D/F. I'll start with this distribution and may adjust slightly depending on how this class seems to be relative to previous classes. Students sometimes ask "Can the curve hurt me?" The answer is that if you compare to an arbitrary scale like "over 90% of points deserves an A", the curve will certainly help you. Only a very few students will get more than 90% of total points, the lowest A- grades will probably be in the high 70's, and getting over 50% of the points on exams will be enough to pass. I think the main drawback of having a curve is that you may feel that you are competing with other students for a limited number of high grades, but I assure you that if everyone does very well I will adjust the grades accordingly. From experience, in a class of over 100 students, the distributions of grades aren't likely to be wildly different from previous classes, but I'll definitely take this into account. The advantage of having a course based on a curve is that grades are comparable between semesters and instructors, so you aren't punished for having an instructor who may give more difficult exams than a different professor. I know that many of you may have grades as your primary motivation for working hard, but I encourage you to open yourself to the possibility that you'll enjoy learning the material for it's own sake, and that you can also find motivation in your own curiosity and desire to learn more about probability.

Academic Honesty

Being an online class academic honesty is of particular concern. I will do everything I can to remove incentives for you to feel like you need to cheat. Please know that I take the Berkeley honor code very seriously and have years of experience catching cheaters. If we suspect someone of cheating, we reserve the right to give the student an oral quiz or exam and test if the student understands what they wrote.

Please familiarize yourself with UCBs Academic Honesty Policy (see the Center for Student Conduct website: ). I encourage you to discuss homework problems with other students and to work together, but copying is never appropriate. (You should never write down anything you don't understand!) I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the definition of plagiarism, and to avoid engaging in it. Violations of the UCB’s Academic Honesty Policy, including instances of plagiarism, will be reported to the University and an appropriate penalty will be implemented. (This may range from a failing grade on an assignment to an “F” for the course, in addition to writing letters of reflection and apology to UCB’s administration.)


Quick Links

Homework: You will also find helpful strategies for attacking the problems -- I highly recommend you read through it at least once.

Reading Guide:

Students with Disabilities: Students needing accommodations should send me email and/or speak with me during office hours and see to learn about Berkeley’s policy.