Bookdown contest submission: Math Prefresher for Political Scientists



The Math Prefresher is an opportunity for incoming graduate students in the Harvard Government Department, taught since 1996, to refresh their knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and familiarizing themselves with statistical programming. This new bookdown project provides an open-source template for graduate students and instructors anywhere to collaborate and innovate teaching material for similar "math / R camp" sessions.


  • Complete text for teaching math and programming for incoming PhD students (or similar students)
  • Adapted over 20 years of teaching material that past instructors have accumulated into a bookdown format
  • Includes exercises, examples, and real datasets

An Example with Its Repo

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Technical details

  • The R portion of this class is taught with, which integrates well with the open git repo. The R section uses multiple datasets, most of which are part of the repo. Instructors import the git repo and let students copy their repo to get started with data right away.
  • The math portion is taught in a physical classroom and the bookdown PDF is compiled and bound in a paper booklet as well.
  • Students can also make corrections or clarifications to the text.


  • Clone the git repo.
  • Change authors and adapt appropriate citation.
  • Compile


It is amazing to see the teaching materials finally evolved to bookdown from 1996! Thanks for sharing the booklet and its source!


I found a couple issues:

  • Chapter 3 - Limits and Chapter 6 - Probability link to the Pre-Prefresher Exercises sections with the same names.
  • Under 3.1 Sequences where x_1 is the first term in the sequence and y _n is the n th term. Shouldn't that be x_n and not y _n ?

Thanks for uploading. I've used the old PDF prefresher before :wink: