Worcester Polytechnic Institute

MA2051 - Ordinary Differential Equations
Course Syllabus - C99

LECTURER: Arthur Heinricher, Stratton 202A, 831-5397, heinrich@wpi

OFFICE HOURS: MW 10:00-11:20, Th 1:00-2:20, and by appointment.

TEACHING ASSISTANT: Michael Johnson, Stratton 104, 831-5546, mrjohn@wpi

TEXT: Differential Equations for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering by Paul W. Davis. (Old Edition)

WEB PAGE: http://www.math.wpi.edu/Course_Materials/MA2051C99/

About the Course: MA2051 is about Differential Equations--equations involving rates of change. This course is a capstone for the calculus sequence and you will use the tools developed during the calculus sequence. The focus of the course will be on the analysis and interpretation of solutions, not on simply finding the solution. Thinking is required.

Course Goals: During the next seven weeks, you should learn how to:

1. Formulate mathematical models using differential equations.

2. Solve differential equations, both analytically and numerically.

3. Analyze and criticize the solutions in terms of the original model.

Course Structure: There are three lecture meetings and two conference sessions each week. You are responsible for any material discussed or instructions given during lecture or conference.

The purpose of the lecture meeting is to outline the course material, to introduce tools and approaches to building and solving differential equations. The purposes of the conference sessions are to preview materials to be presented in lecture, to study in more detail materials already introduced in lecture and in the text, and to explore aspects of differential equations that are not discussed in lecture. The conferences are much more than help sessions for homework.

You will form ``learning groups'' of three or four students within your conference section. Projects will be done in this group framework; the group hands in one paper. You are encouraged to work in groups on the homework problems, but each individual must submit his or her own paper for grading.

Grading Scheme:

Your course grade will be based on two test grades, a homework/quiz grade, and a project grade. A perfect score will be 400 points and the minimum needed for an A will be 360 points, the minimum needed for a B will be 320 points, and the minimum needed for a C will be 280 points.

Test 1 100
Test 2 100
Project 1 50
Project 2 50
HW/Q 100
Total 400


There will be two (in-class) tests worth 100 points each. Tests are closed book and notes; you may use calculator.

There will be a re-test scheduled after each of the regular tests. If you are not happy with your score on the first test, you have the option to take the re-test. The maximum score on each re-test will be 85 points. (This is a perfect score on the retest.) In addition, if you choose to take the re-test, this will be your score for the test. (You do not get to keep the higher of the two scores.)


At least ten homework sets will be collected and at least 4 quizzes will be given during the term.

Problem sets will be selected from the list of recommended problems and announced at least one day before they are due. One or two problems will be chosen from those collected and graded in detail; this will be your grade for the homework set.

Quizzes will be given both in lecture and in conference (and almost never announced in advance).

At the end of the term, the four lowest homework/quiz grades will be dropped and the average adjusted to a 100 point scale. Late homework will be accepted in special cases, with a 2 point deduction. Make-up quizzes will not be given. (This is what the drops are for.) Sloppy homework will be returned ungraded and you get a zero; no kidding.

Include your name and section as well as the due date on each homework set. Label all problems clearly with their number and section. Some assignments will require that you use computer software to solve differential equations. You may use any package that you wish (MATLAB and MAPLE are obvious choices), but you must include copies of the appropriate computer output with your write-up. Initial and date each printout.



You will complete two projects during the term, each worth 50 points.

The projects will be introduced in the conference sessions. Working in your learning group, you will complete both project assignments and you will evaluate the work of another team on each project. Express yourself clearly and concisely and address the report to your peers; they will be evaluating your work.


There will be several opportunities to collect bonus points during the term. Some of these points will be for special quizzes and some special problems announced in the lecture and/or the conference session.

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Maintained by: Arthur Heinricher, <heinrich@wpi.edu>
Last modified: Thu Jan 14 15:07:15 EST 1999