Further pure mathematics
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This module introduces important topics in the theory of pure mathematics including: number theory; the algebraic theory of rings and fields; and metric spaces. You will develop your understanding of group theory and real analysis and will see how some of these ideas are applied to cryptography and fractals. To successfully study this module you must have a keen interest in developing your ability to write mathematical proofs and already have a sound knowledge of group theory, linear algebra, convergence of real sequences and series, and continuity of real functions, as provided by our level 2 module, Pure mathematics (M208).
What you will study
This module is based around six books with each one developing a particular topic in pure mathematics.
Number Theory
The first book is concerned with the integers, and in particular with the solution of classical problems that require integer solutions. It begins by considering some elementary properties of the integers, such as divisibility and greatest common divisors. This leads to a method of solving the linear Diophantine equation ax + by = c, that is, finding solutions to the equation that are integers. In the second chapter, every integer greater than 1 is shown to be a unique product of primes, and results are obtained concerning the distribution of primes among the integers. In Chapter 3, methods are developed for solving linear congruences such as ax ≡ b (mod n) and in the final chapter the classical theorems of Fermat and Wilson are obtained.
Groups
The second book consolidates and builds on the group theory presented at OU level 2 of our curriculum in Pure mathematics (M208). You will learn enough about the structure of groups to completely determine, up to isomorphism, all groups of order less than 16. The introduction of direct products will also enable you to determine the structure of all finite Abelian groups. It ends with an introduction to the problem of classifying groups that are not given to be Abelian. On completion you should understand the structure of finite Abelian groups and be able to use the Sylow Theorems to analyse the structure of appropriate finite groups.
Numbers and Rings
In the first half of this book you will look at multiplicative functions and then return to congruences and consider the solution of quadratic congruences, ax2 ≡ b (mod n). This leads to Gauss’s law of quadratic reciprocity. The second half of this book contains an introduction to rings and the important idea of unique factorisation together with some applications to Number Theory, including techniques of solving some Diophantine equations.
Metric spaces I
This book introduces you to the theory of metric spaces: spaces in which there is a notion of distance between pairs of points. In the first chapter you see how the Euclidean notion of distance underlies the definition of continuity in the real line and the plane. In the second chapter, three key properties of this usual notion of distance are identified and used to define the idea of a metric. You will see how you can define metrics on spaces of functions and other abstract spaces. In Chapter 3 you learn how to construct and combine examples of metric spaces, including examples of distance defined for continuous functions, and in the last chapter you learn about open and closed sets in metric spaces.
Rings and Fields
This book consists of four chapters: Rings and Homomorphisms, Fields and Polynomials, Fields and Geometry, and Cryptography. The first chapter starts by introducing the construction of fields of fractions and then investigates rings derived from polynomials. It then looks at quotient rings and ideals, the ring theory analogues of quotient groups and normal subgroups and develops the concept of prime and maximal ideals. The Fields chapters look at many examples of fields, in particular finite fields, and a complete classification of finite fields is obtained. The third chapter includes investigations of ruler and compass constructions, resulting in the resolution of some famous problems of antiquity such as ‘squaring the circle’ or ‘trisecting the angle’. The chapter on cryptography includes some applications of finite fields.
Metric Spaces II
Finally, this book develops the theory of metric spaces by looking at the meaning of connectedness and understanding how theorems such as the extreme value theorem from real analysis can be extended to the context of metric spaces. This book culminates in an introduction to the theory of fractals where you can see how many common fractal sets can be viewed as fixed points of continuous maps on a very particular metric space.
There will be a reader on the module website that provides an overview of the historical development of topological and metric spaces, and modern algebra. Where appropriate the reader includes information and/or links about modern applications and unsolved/recently solved problems.
Professional recognition
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.
Entry requirements
This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.
This module is designed to follow on from Pure mathematics (M208). Here's what a student that started in October 2016 had to say:
If you enjoyed M208 pure mathematics, then I recommend you study M303. There are basically four topics of number theory, group theory, ring and field theory and metric spaces. There is also a little bit of applied mathematics to cryptography and ruler and compass constructions which is not examinable. The workload is what should be expected for a 60 credit level 3 module but the abstract nature of the subject matter can make it seem more at times. All the tutors and the module team provide outstanding support and for enthusiasts like myself there is extracurricular material and some history of mathematics. I studied the third presentation of the module and I anticipate it will become even better as it matures.
To pass this module, you will need:
 to spend an average of at least 16–18 hours per week engaging with the module material
 to be comfortable reading and understanding mathematical arguments (such as the proofs in Pure mathematics (M208)) – the ability to apply and use results, without understanding the theory behind their use, is not likely to be sufficient
 successful experience of writing correct mathematical arguments (such as showing that a fact is always true), as developed in Pure mathematics (M208)
 a good knowledge and understanding of the following pure mathematics topics:
 group theory including: normal subgroups; quotient groups; homomorphisms; and group actions
 linear algebra including: finding determinants ; using elementary row operations; determining the kernel and image of linear maps; and the dimension theorem
 real analysis including: proving the convergence of real sequences and series; proving the continuity of real functions; and the Mean Value Theorem.
If you have any doubts about your mathematical knowledge and experience, our diagnostic quiz will help determine whether you are ready for this module.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
Preparatory work
There is no specific preparatory work required for this module but it may be helpful for you to revise group theory and continuity of real functions before the module begins.
What's included
Six printed module books and a handbook (which can be taken into the examination).
A study planner, module reader, module forums, assessment materials, practice quizzes and optional supplementary information available via the module website.
You will need
A calculator would be useful for the number theoryrelated parts of the module, though it is not essential. A simple fourfunction (+ – x ÷) model would suffice.
Computing requirements
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
 Windows 7 or higher
 macOS 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our onlinediscussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.