TO 512 and TO 513 FAQ Site

TO: Technology and Operations

TO 512 and TO 513: "Solving Business Problems Using PC Excel 2013"

including Microsoft Office Specialist Certification ("Expert-Level") Excel 2013 in 1.5-Credit TO 512;

and, in 1.5-Credit TO 513, risk analysis (Monte Carlo simulation on spreadsheets),

decision analysis (probability trees on spreadsheets, with numerical sensitivity analysis),

and linear and nonlinear optimization (with numerical sensitivity analysis),

all based on the use of commercial third-party add-ins for PC Excel 2013

 

TO 512 and 513 make exclusive use of PC Excel 2013, a component of Microsoft Office 2013.
As detailed below, the course textbooks, exercises, and exams require the use of PC Excel 2013.
Spreadsheet software other than Excel 2013 (e.g., Excel 2010; Excel for the Mac;
Google docs spreadsheets) is insufficient for TO 512
because of software differences across various Excel implementations.


If a Mac is Windows-enabled and has Office 2013 installed, the Mac can be used in TO 512 and TO 513.
For further details, see "Can We Use a Mac Instead of a PC in TO 512? In TO 513?" further below.

 

Site last updated August 12, 2014

 


Topics (topic links temporarily disabled; scroll down)

 

I Already Know Quite a Bit About Excel. Should I Take TO 512?

What Are the TO 513 Pre-requisites and Contents?

What is the Availability of Excel 2013?

Can We Use a Mac Instead of a PC in the Courses?

Are Textbooks Used in the Courses?

Do the TO 512 and TO 513 Courses Have Websites?

Is There a Coursepack to Buy?

What is the Structure of Class Meetings?

Is Email Used in the Courses?

Is There Group-work in the Courses?

What About Exams and Course Grades?

What if I Have to Miss a Class?

Who Should Take These Courses?

How Many Students Take These Courses?

If I Took TO 311 (or BIT 311), Can/Should I Take TO 512?

Can Industrial Engineering Grad Students Take TO 512 and/or TO 513 for Degree Credit?

What is the Temporary "Unit Entry Restriction" on TO 512 and TO 513?

How Should Students Ask for an Override?

Which Book Should I Use if I Want to Study Excel on My Own?

How Can We Find Out More?

 


      When Are the Next Course Offerings?
      (check Wolverine Access for room numbers)

        TO 512: (Professor Yan P. Huang)
        Sep-Oct 2014
        Section 001: 12:40-2:10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
        Section 002/451: 7:00-10:00 p.m. Tuesdays (451 is the Section number for Evening MBA Program students; 002 is for all others)

        Jan-Feb 2015
        Section 004/451: 6:30-9:30 Mondays (452 is the Section number for Evening MBA Program students; 004 is for all others)
        Section 001: 12:40-2:10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
        Section 002: 2:10-3:40 Tuesdays and Thursdays
        Section 003/451: 6:30-9:30  p.m. Tuesdays (451 is the Section number for Evening MBA Program students; 003 is for all others)

 

        TO 513: (Professor Thomas J. Schriber)
        Nov-Dec 2014
        Section 001/451: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays (451 is the Section number for Evening MBA Program students; 001 is for all others)

        Mar-Apr 2014
        Section 001: 12:40-2:10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
        Section 002/451: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays (451 is the Section number for Evening MBA Program students; 002 is for all others)

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What Are the TO 512 Pre-requisites and Contents?

There are no formal pre-requisites for TO 512, other than graduate student standing. Because most students already know at least the bare-bones elements of spreadsheeting, however, the course begins with Excel Chapter 4 in the course textbook. (See the book by Parsons et al., described further below.) Note though that everyone must work his/her way through Excel Chapters 1 through 3 on his/her own, and everyone in the course must do a set of three auto-graded Excel 2013 Projects based on Chapters 1 through 3.  The course is fast paced and intensive, making it possible to achieve in-depth coverage of most of the surprisingly rich, powerful and practical features and capabilities of Excel 2013 within a 6-week time frame. Students gain Microsoft Certifiable Application-Specialist knowledge of Excel 2013. This means that, after completing the course and the Appendices in the book, students could take (and presumably pass) the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist Excel 2013 certification exam, at a cost of ~$100. (Appendix E in the book provides certification-exam particulars.)

The Parsons et al. textbook takes a tutorial-based, case-study approach. Each tutorial chapter concludes with exercises based on business cases. The book contains twelve Excel 2013 tutorial chapters, dealing with such topics as charts and graphing, functions (including financial and time-and-date functions) and formulas; managing records within Excel; Pivot Tables; working with multiple worksheets and workbooks; use of Auditing Tools to troubleshoot spreadsheets and to come to a better understanding of applications built by others; use of Microsoft Query to extract data from Access databases; structured what-iffing and sensitivity analysis with Data Tables, Scenarios, and the Scenario Manager; Goal Seeking; an introduction to linear and nonlinear optimization; the recording of Macros; and the light editing of Macros.

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I Already Know Quite a Bit About Excel. Should I take TO 512?

Here's how you can answer that question: Spend some time browsing the TO 512 textbook. (Check for a two-hour reserve copy in the University Reserves collection in the Shapiro Library on the central campus diagonal; or go to a bookstore; or borrow the text from a colleague.) In each of chapters 4 through 11, scan the "Review Assignments" and any one of the “Cases.” (You'll find the Review Assignments and Cases at the back of each chapter.) If you can imagine yourself being able to do at least about two thirds of those exercises quite comfortably (and, by extension, if you feel comfortable with about two thirds or more of the concepts in the book and their operational implementation), you are probably overqualified for TO 512. (You could fill in your "concept gaps" and their operational implementation on your own, without spending the time and tuition money to take TO 512.) Otherwise, taking TO 512 is probably in order.

If you judge that you're overqualified for TO 512, give serious consideration to taking TO 513. (TO 512 or equivalent know-how in Excel is a TO 513 pre-requisite.) A suggestion for self-checking your readiness for TO 513 (without having taken TO 512) is given in the second paragraph in the next topic.

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What Are the TO 513 Pre-requisites and Contents?

TO 513 has TO 512 (or equivalent fluency in Excel) as a pre-requisite. Excel-based TO 513 takes up the topics of  risk analysis using Monte Carlo simulation, decision analysis using decision trees (probability trees), and linear and nonlinear optimization. Commercial third-party Excel add-ins are used in the course. (These add-ins include @Risk, PrecisionTree, and Solver which are in the RSB (Ross School of Business) computer network for local and remote use on PC's and Windows-enabled Macs (remote use is accomplished via the use of the Ross "virtual lab” software) , and are additionally available in student versions, downloadable from the vendor's website. Students can do the course assignments on their own computer running Excel 2013.)

If you haven't taken TO 512, a good way to check out your "Excel readiness" for TO 513 is to work with Chapter 2 in the TO 513 textbook (described elsewhere at this site). This chapter provides a review of Excel. (We don't cover Chapter 2 in TO 513, but start beyond that point in the book.) If you are comfortable with the Excel tools applied in the examples worked out in Chapter 2 ("Breakeven Analysis at Great Threads"; "Estimating Sensitivity of Demand to Price at Links"; "Ordering with Quantity Discounts at Sam's Bookstores"; "Calculating NPV at Acron"), then you are qualified to take TO 513 without having formally taken TO 512.

Application areas for the methodologies studied in TO 513 include Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, and Operations Management. The textbook contains literally dozens of worked-out examples (models) for such applications, and hundreds of exercises for practice. Typical of the worked-out examples in the book are "Estimating a sales response function," "Determining optimal pricing," "Determining an advertising schedule," "Capital budgeting," "Bidding for a government contract," "Scheduling workers," "Production scheduling," and "Telephone call processing."

 

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What Is the Availability of Excel 2013?

Students who aren't already running Microsoft Office 2013 on their PC's (see the next topic here) or Windows-enabled Macs can buy Microsoft Office 2013 at the UM Computer Showcase (in the basement of the Michigan Union) with their student id for $50.

More details are provided at the UM Computer Showcase website. Google for Computer Showcase umich.edu, or go here:

http://showcase.itcs.umich.edu/software.php

Excel 2013 is available for local use in the Ross Computing Network at computers in the reservable study rooms in the Ross Quadrangle, and for remote use over the internet using Ross "virtual lab" software. For information about the virtual lab software, go to http://www.bus.umich.edu and search on virtual lab,  or try browsing to:

http://www.bus.umich.edu/MyiMpact/DiscoverIT/TechFeatures/VirtualCompLab.aspx

 

If there are questions or problems, call Ross Computing Services, 734-615-3000, Option 2, or visit the Concierge desk near the Tappan Street entry to the Ross Quadrangle.

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Can We Use a Mac Instead of a PC in TO 512? In TO 513?

If your Mac is Windows-enabled and has Office 2013 installed, you can use a Mac in TO 512 and TO 513. (Note that you can't use the version of Excel written for the Mac, because Mac Excel differs from the PC Excel 2013 on which TO 512 and 513 are based. For more details, read the rest of this section.) 

There are alternative two approaches for working with a Mac in TO 512 and TO 513.

1. Get the VMWare Fusion PC emulator (from the UM Computer Showcase) for the Mac. You can run the Mac operating system and Windows in parallel with VMWare Fusion, which is considered to be much better than using Boot Camp. (With Boot Camp you can run Windows and the Mac operating system too, but not in parallel. There is also PC emulation software named Parallels, which is like Fusion but costs about twice as much. Between the two, Apple recommends Fusion.) Also get Windows and Microsoft Office 2013 at the Computer Showcase. Install these three pieces of software on the Mac and you're good to go.

2. Use the Mac and the downloadable "virtual lab" software provided by Ross to support remote use of software in the Ross computing network via the Internet. (A high speed Internet connection is recommended.)

For information about the virtual lab software, see the preceding topic here.  If there are questions or problems, call Ross Computing Services, 734-615-3000, Option 2, or visit the Concierge desk near the Tappan Street entry to the Ross Quadrangle.

Here are some insights into the extent to which TO 512 is Windows Excel 2013-centric:

    • The POAC textbook discusses Excel 2013 and displays Excel 2013 screen shots.
      (POAC is the textbook used in TO 512; see below.)
    • The starting files for assigned POAC  cases are Excel 2013 files.
    • Work submitted to the CTools website is to take the form of Excel 2013 files.
    • The exam is based on Excel 2013.
    • Assigned work started in a version of Excel other than Excel 2013 might have to be finished in Excel 2013 to apply Excel 2013 features not available in the version of Excel in which the work was started.

Students in TO 512 are welcome to work with alternative versions of Excel to the extent possible, subject to the above conditions, but the smoothest way to proceed is to use Excel 2013 from the get-go.

What about using a Mac in TO 513? If your Mac is Windows-enabled and you have Excel 2013, or if you are game to use the virtual lab software on your Windows-enabled Mac, no problem. Otherwise, no deal. Palisade Corporation, the vendor of the commercial @Risk and PrecisionTree add-ins that we use in TO 513, does not make versions of those add-ins that run with Mac Excel. (The Mac market evidently isn't big enough to justify that. Note that, broadly speaking, "business" uses Windows-based software, and so you are probably better served in the long run by learning Windows Excel 2013 in TO 512/513 than by learning variants of it.)

 

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Are Textbooks Used in the Courses? Anything Else?

Yes. In TO 512 there is one required textbook and a required user-specific Project Access Code used to gain access to SAM (Skills Assessment Method) Excel 2013 Projects. (SAM 2013 Projects is a live-in-the-application project-based homework and assessment product providing one Project for each chapter in the TO 512 textbook. The Project Access Code is used use to create a user-specific account at the SAM 2013 Excel site.)

The TO 512 textbook is Excel 2013 New Perspectives Comprehensive, by Parsons, Oja, Ageloff, and Carey, ISBN-13: 978-1-285-16933-0. (The authors have written more than one Excel  book, so be careful to buy the right book. Let the ISBN number be your guide.)

The textbook and "Printed Access Card" are most economically bought in a bundle that has the bundle ISBN number: ISBN-13: 978-1-285-72540-6. The bundle is available for TO 512 in Ann Arbor textbook stores (Barnes and Noble in the basement of the Michigan Union; and Ulrich's, just north of the point where East University dead-ends into South University). If buying locally, phone ahead to be certain the store of choice has the bundle in stock.

The publisher also sells the bundle online. The cost is about $155, with free shipping. Those interested should browse to: http://www.cengagebrain.com/isbn/9781285725406 and take it from there.

TO 512 textbook and software particulars are provided in the TO 512 syllabus,
which is in Resource folder 01 at the TO 512 CTools website. (See the next FAQ topic.)
Students registered for the course have access to the CTools site. Others can request the syllabus from yphuang@umich.edu


The TO 513 textbook for the November/December 2014 course is Practical Management Science, 4th Edition, by Winston and Albright, copyrighted 2012, ISBN-13: 978-1-111-53131-7. All of TO 513 is based on the book. The 4th edition addresses the Excel 2010 versions of @Risk (risk analysis) and PrecisionTree (decision analysis), which are commercial Excel add-ins, and uses Excel 2010’s Solver (optimization). Excel 2013 will be used in the November/December 2014 course, even though the textbook is for Excel 2010. (The 5th edition of the TO 513 textbook will not be available until January of 2015, and so in 2014 Fall B offering of TO 513, we will use the 4th edition of the book.) Attempts to make do with earlier editions of Practical Management Science should be avoided for your own sanity. There are five options (below) for having access to the book. Base any online searches on the book’s ISBN number.

(1)   Buy a new print copy of the book in an Ann Arbor textbook bookstore or at cengagebrain.com

(2)   Buy a used copy of the book at an Ann Arbor textbook store (or possibly at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com or ???).

(3)   Buy 6-month use of the eBook at cengagebrain.com

(4)   Buy 6-month use of the five eChapters covered (chapters 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10) from cengagebrain.com

(5)   Rely exclusively on a two-hour reserve copy of the book. This is to be discouraged. Taking the time to get to the University Reserves in the Shapiro library and then possibly having to wait to use the book (because someone else is using it) would be an inefficient use of your time.

 

 TO 513 Textbook and software particulars are provided on page 4 in the TO 513 syllabus,
which is in Resource 01 at the TO 513 CTools website. (See the next FAQ topic.)
Students registered for the course have access to the CTools site. Others can request the syllabus from schriber@umich.edu
 

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Do the TO 512 and TO 513 Courses Have Websites?

Yes, each of the courses has a University of Michigan CTools website. You must be registered at these sites to access them. After authorization (provided automatically for those registered in the course, or otherwise requested of yphuang@umich.edu for TO 512, or requested of schriber@umich.edu for TO 513), to reach these sites you should browse to CTools.umich.edu and log in using your UM uniqname and password. Then click on the relevant TO 512 or TO 513 tab in the row of tabs at the top of the screen.

In general, students can go to the CTools gateway portal:

https://ctools.umich.edu/portal

and from there can navigate to the published CTools website for each course for which they are registered.

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Is There a Coursepack to Buy?

No; there is no coursepack to buy in either TO 512 or TO 513. The objective in each course is that "nothing touches paper"  Except for lectures and office hours, all communication from instructor to students, and from students to instructor, is electronic. (There is one exception to "nothing touches paper": a print copy of the syllabus is given out at the first class meeting in each course, as a matter of convenience for the students. The syllabus is also available at the corresponding course website.)

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What is the Structure of Class Meetings?

The course day section or sections meet for 75 minutes twice a week. The evening section meets once a week for 165 minutes (75 minutes; 15-minute break; 75 more minutes). Meetings take the form of a Lecture/Demonstration based on projecting and manipulating live-in-the-application spreadsheets onto a large screen at the front of the room. The starting-point lecture files (that are built in Excel) are made available to students at the course website prior to class, so that interested students can easily "follow along" on their own laptops if that's their preferred learning style. Assigned casework and modeling is then completed on the student's own time.

Class meetings are designed to provide an effective learning experience in each of three dimensions: visual (thanks to computer-screen projections of live-in-the-application Excel worksheets); audio (thanks to discussion of the projected material); and tactile (thanks to students optionally "following along" on their laptop as the instructor manipulates the projected starting-point worksheets to further develop them). Consistent class attendance saves time in the long run and, when reinforced by completing assigned exercises, pays dividends in the form of an in-depth conceptual and operational takeaway from the course(s). 

 

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Is Email Used in the Courses?

Yes,  when circumstances call for it, Email/Announcements are sent via the course CTools website. Email/Announcements are important means of communication, especially for courses that only meet once or twice a week. These Email/Announcements are not only sent as email, but are retained at the course website for later optional review. As a result, students do not have to save or manage Email/Announcements on their own computer.

Students also sometimes use email to ask for help outside of class. For example, if a student is having difficulty completing an assigned exercise, the student has the option of sending the work-in-progress file to yphuang@umich.edu (for TO 512) or to schriber@umich.edu (for TO 513) as an email attachment, describing in the body of the email the difficulty being experienced and requesting that the work in progress be reviewed and suggestions be given for resolving the difficulty.

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Is There Groupwork in the Courses?

There is no formal groupwork in TO 512 or TO 513. Each student is expected to take full responsibility for his/her own work and submit the result of that work under his/her own name to the website (the SAM site in some cases, and the CTools site in other cases. ). However, it is OK for a student to get help from other students and/or the instructor when working his/her way through an exercise. For example, suppose a student reaches a point in a case in which it isn't clear to the student what the next step is to be, and/or how to go about accomplishing that next step. Then it's perfectly fine for the student to consult with one or more other students in that regard in an attempt to overcome the obstacle, and/or to ask the instructor about the problem, whichever is more convenient. (The most time-efficient way to ask questions of the instructor is usually by sending email to yphuang@umich.edu (TO 512) or to schriber@umich.edu (TO 513), describing the situation and attaching the work-in-progress workbook to the email.)

For the sake of camaraderie and efficiency, some students might also occasionally get together while each works his/her way through a case, talking about various aspects of the case as they proceed. That's fine, and can enhance the learning experience, but each student must still take full responsibility for his/her own work and individually submit the result of that work under his/her own name to the relevant website.

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What About Exams and Course Grades?

TO 512 and 513 each conclude with a demanding exam (typically accounting for 40% of the course grade). The exams are hands-on (that is, they are written on a computer and involve tightly timed use of the course software).

The exams are optional for those who have done the assigned homework in substantially correct fashion (as described quantitatively in the relevant syllabus) and are satisfied to take a course grade of "Pass." (This option is referred to in the syllabus as the "AutoPass.") Those trying for an "Excellent" (up to the top 35% of the class) or "Good" (up to the next circa 40% of the class) must write the concluding exam.

 

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What if I Have to Miss a Class?

Ample resources are provided in TO 512 and TO 513 for students to make up for a missed class through their own independent efforts.  Such students can take advantage of (1) the course textbook,  (2) the detailed game plan spelled out in the course syllabus, (3) the availability of electronic materials at the CTools websites, (4) the fact that all assignments are submitted to relevant websites, (5) the online starting-point lecture workbooks, and (6) the video-recorded Lecture/Demonstrations (for which links are posted week by week at the CTools website).

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Who Should Take These Courses?

UM MBA students who are not familiar in depth with Excel and are not yet able to use Excel comfortably and almost instinctively in formal or informal professional contexts to organize, store, manipulate, analyze and display numerical and/or textual information should give high priority to taking TO 512 at a minimum, preferably as MBA I's in anticipation of their MAP project and summer internship. Other University of Michigan graduate students for whom spreadsheeting can be a practical tool and who are not yet completely fluent in spreadsheeting can also consider taking the course(s). (But see the "Unit Entry Restriction" further below.)

 

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How Many Students Take These Courses?

It is estimated that about 60% of the students in the MBA program have taken TO 512 by the time they graduate, and that about 40% have taken TO 513 by that time. Some MBA II's taking TO 512 have said, paraphrased, "If only I had been able to use Excel like this during my MAP project and/or during my summer internship, and/or in other courses during my first year in the program!" Evening MBA Program students have said while taking TO 512, "I'm already using this material in my day-by-day work life. This is probably the most immediately-usable course I've taken in the MBA program."

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If I Took BBA Course TO 311 (or BIT 311), Can/Should I Take TO 512?

No! If you took TO 311 (or BIT 311) as a UM undergrad, then you have, in effect, already taken TO 512, and cannot get credit for taking it again. (TO 311 is a 3-credit BBA course which, during the first half of the course, covers the same material as TO 512, using the same textbook.)

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Can IOE Grad Students Take TO 512 and/or TO 513 for Degree Credit?

The IOE (Industrial and Operations Engineering) Department maintains a list of "forbidden" non-IOE courses for which IOE graduate students do not receive credit toward their graduate IOE degree (presumably because the course content is available in one form or another within the IOE department). TO 512 and TO 513 are each on this "forbidden" list. IOE graduate students are welcome to take the courses for credit on their transcript, but should be aware that the credit will not count toward their IOE degree. For more information about IOE "forbidden" courses, go to this site:

 

http://ioe.engin.umich.edu/degrees/grad/gpai_docs/MSE_prog_req_forbid_courses.pdf

 

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What is the Temporary "Unit Entry Restriction" on TO 512 and TO 513?

When course registration first opens, only Ross and Ross-affiliated (dual degree) students can register at Wolverine Access for Ross courses. Later (about two weeks or so after registration first opens), any UM graduate student can register for the courses (conditioned on the courses not yet being full) or add his or her name to a waitlist.

In any event, students not yet registered are welcome to come to the opening class, even if Wolverine Access says there is no space available in the course. It is often possible to sign overrides in such cases for various reasons. Every effort is made to accommodate all students who want to take the courses.

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How Should Students Request an Override?

If students try to register for TO 512 or TO 513 at Wolverine Access and the course is full, they can use Wolverine Access to have their name  put on a waiting list. The instructor monitors the waiting list and if space becomes available in the course, sends email (top-down) to potentially-affected waitlisted students, describing the steps to follow if they still want to register.

 

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Which Book Should I Use if I Want to Study Excel on My Own?

If you have some time to devote to the study of Excel (such as in the summer preceding your first or second year in the MBA program), it is strongly recommended that you study from the Parsons, Oja, et al. book that is used in TO 512. See the textbook details described earlier at this FAQ site.

Note that the TO 512 course starts with Chapter 4 (“Analyzing and Charting Financial Data”) in the Parsons, Oja, et al. book, assuming prior knowledge of the material in the first three chapters. You can fruitfully study as much material from this book as possible. The more features of Excel you learn now, the less time you'll have to spend if and when you take the TO 512 course.

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How Can We Find Out More?

Browse through the books used in TO 512 and TO 513. (Check the two-hour reserves in the University Reserves collection in the Shapiro Library on the central campus diagonal; or go to a bookstore; or borrow the book or books from a colleague.)  

Simply come to the opening  TO 512 and/or TO 513 class meeting (whether or not you're registered for the course) and listen to the introduction, discussion of course content and structure, and the detailed presentation/discussion of the Week 1 material.

Additional questions? You can ask them of the TO 512 instructor (Professor Yan P. Huang; yphuang@umich.edu) or the TO 513 instructor (Prof. Thomas J. Schriber, schriber@umich.edu) via email.

 

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