Math 231
Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
Spring, 2011

Syllabus

Course overview.  Our main text is Elementary Differential Equations, 8th Ed., by Boyce & DiPrima. There is also a course pack which you are expected to have that covers linear algebra ideas at an elementary level. (Chapter 7 of Boyce & DiPrima assumes prior exposure to these ideas, and the course pack is meant to provide that exposure.) Topics to be covered include differential equations as models, analytical solutions of first order differential equations (linear, separable), qualitative behavior of first-order autonomous DEs, systems of homogeneous linear first-order equations, numerical methods for first order systems, solutions of linear higher-order DEs with constant coefficients, plots of solutions in the phase plane, the Laplace transform and, if time permits, series solutions of linear DEs with non-constant coefficients.

Software.  A number of assigned problems will require the use of software. For most classroom demonstrations and programs I disseminate, I will be using OCTAVE, a GNU-license (free!) package which is available for all major operating systems and is patterned quite closely after MATLAB. (Many programs written for one will run seamlessly in the other.) Whenever appropriate, you are expected to hand in both nicely-formatted output (graphs, tables, etc.) and the code (which must be well documented) used to generate it.

Evaluations.  Each of the following will be components of your overall grade: assignments (15%, graded for correctness), exams (57%, see the course calendar for dates), and a cumulative final (28%). New problems will be assigned each day, in general, with problem sets collected twice per week. Problem sets themselves, as current as I can make them at the time of viewing, may be viewed from the homework page or class calendar. I consider an assignment late—and will not accept it without reasons I find compelling—if it is submitted after the set has been taken away to be graded.

Written work/academic integrity.  Concerning written homework, you may borrow someone's idea for solving a problem, but cite your source (a classmate, peer, book—provide the usual bibliographic information, website—provide the url, etc.). All written assignments (except in the event a group project is assigned) are to be written up separately on your own, using your own words. Give as much attention to presenting your solutions in a coherent manner (using mathematical symbols as part of your sentence structure) as you give to actually solving problems, as it is the explanation of each problem that is graded (not simply the answer itself). Handing in (uncited) another's writeup of any part of an assignment will be considered an instance of academic dishonesty (See Section 4.2.8 of the Faculty Handbook), resulting in a zero for the entire assignment.

If any part of an exam write-up is not your own, or is the result of unauthorized access to information stored anywhere in any form, the result on the first instance will be a score of zero. A second occurrence will result in automatic failure of the course.

Contacting me.   My office is NH 281. If you are having trouble in the course — if you do not understand something important or have some special circumstance that impedes your performance — see me about it right away. Do not put things off. The hours I am intentionally in my office for meeting with students are posted on my homepage, as they are subject to change during the semester. If we cannot hook up at one of these times, feel free to talk with me about an appointed time to meet, or swing by my office and see if I am available to help.

I may be reached by phone at x66856, but a better way to reach me for a non-technical question is by email. If you require my approval for something, do not consider having left a message for me as equivalent to having obtained that approval.