Math 231 A
Differential Equations with Linear Algebra
Spring, 2018


Course overview.  Welcome to a first course in differential equations. Many physical phenomena of interest in science and engineering are modeled using such equations. By solving these models, we can make predictions concerning these phenomena.

Our main text is “Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra: A Systems Approach,” by Todd Kapitula. The focus of this book is on linear differential equations: scalar equations of nth order, and 1st order systems. We will cover most sections in Chapters 1-5, perhaps omitting case studies and Section 3.6. Though the separable ODEs of Section 6.1 are often nonlinear, we will also discuss how to solve them.

Student learning goals.  In this course we learn the fundamentals of linear algebra and of solving linear ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Students will be able to

Lectures, class activities, homework exercises, and readings from the text will all be used to develop these abilities in students. Written homework exercises (ones submitted in hard copy for grading) and tests will be used to assess student achievement.

My expectations of students.  As a student in this course, you are expected to

Homework.  Homework is assigned regularly in this course, with due dates displayed on the course calendar. Homework assignments come in two varieties:

Grade Calculations.  There are various components to your grade. Here is what they are, along with their relative weights:

I give these weights so that you can use it at various points as you desire to estimate your grade. If you anticipate a desire for such an estimate, keep track of your scores on various instruments, and calculate a weighted average (click the link for some guidance if you've forgotten how to do so) using those pieces of data which are available. Do not ask me what your grade is at partial points through the semester; I'm here to teach you the subject in the course title, not to provide you a reminder of your scores, nor to do menial calculations on student whims. The weights provide you with a way to gauge your performance as you move along through the semester, but it may be that greater grace than indicated here, meted out without prejudice, is in play when final grades are determined. Nevertheless, I will not help you speculate what form that grace might take, or what your “grace grade” might be.

Academic integrity.  Webwork assignments are tailored individually, but vary only in minor details. You are welcome to work with others as you solve Webwork problems. While I do not bar you from discussing the hand-checked assignments with others, I encourage you to attempt these on your own, as they will better suit their purpose that way. Whether you accept this advice or not, all write-ups are to be done as if on your own, using your own words.

If an instance of academic dishonesty arises, this will result, in the first instance, in a score of zero for all parties involved. Should there be another instance, this will result in immediate 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 connect 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.

Accommodations.   Reasonable academic accomodations will be made for individuals with documented disabilities. Any student who this concerns should notify one of the coordinators for services for students with disabilities in the Center for Student Success, Spoelhof College Center 360. That student should also meet with me during the first two weeks of the semester to discuss academic accomodations.

Exceptions.   I reserve the right to make changes or exceptions to course policies — including those described in this document — either for the entire class or for specific individuals. The ultimate goal in this course is learning, and formal requirements should not unnecessarily stand in the way of that. Thus, if you think that any of the conditions of the course are interfering with learning, please speak with me about this, and we will see what can be done.

This page maintained by: Thomas L. Scofield
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Calvin College

Last Modified: Wednesday, 09-May-2018 06:30:45 EDT