Syllabus for MA 226 -A1, Differential Equations

Syllabus for MA 226 - A1, Differential Equations, Fall 2021

Course Information

Lecturer: Ryan Goh

Office: MCS 243
Office Hours: Tuesday 1-3pm (priority for MA 226-A1),
Wednesday 10a-12pm (priority for another class I am teaching),
or by appointment, please provide your availability when requesting an appointment.
Web page:


Time: Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:45am;
Location: PHO 206
Lecture Notes: I will use notes with gaps for lectures. PDFs for the weeks lectures will be posted on the Blackboard website the Monday before. These notes will have gaps in them. The idea is that you will download and print out (or load onto a tablet) the notes for each lecture, and bring them to class to fill in the spaces as we go through the material. This will also allow you to see what we will be covering during the week and prepare by reading the corresponding textbook sections and working out examples.

Teaching Fellow: Cameron Edgar

Office: MCS B25H
Office Hours: Mondays 11am-12pm, Wednesday from 4-5pm
Tutoring room hours: Tuesday 2-3pm

Office Hours

To begin with, office hours will be held in-person, in my office MCS 243. I will also have some sort of virtual component (either via campuswire or zoom) which people who don't feel comfortable coming to my office, can listen in to the in person conversation and also ask questions. More details will be announced in lecture. If you have a question that is more of a ``one-on-one" type question (say regarding your course performance, logistics question, etc.), let me know in the session and we can find some time in office hours to speak one-on-one.

Discussion Sections

Note: If you are registered in this section of the class, you must be registered in one, and only one, of these discussion sections. In these sessions you will be able to work through problems, and ask questions of your classmates and teaching fellow. Math is learned by doing, and this is a great place to do more of it and get help on problems!
Section Place Time
A2 PRB 150 T 5:00-5:50pm
A3 STH 113 T 3:35-4:25pm
A4 PHO 202 W 9:05-9:55am
A5 CAS 327 W 10:10-11:00am
A6 CAS B27 W 1:25-2:15pm

Course Description:

Differential equations are some of the most popular and powerful tools for understanding the natural world. In its simplest form, a differential equation is an equation which relates the rate of change of a quantity(s), with respect to some other independent variable (most often time), to the quantity itself. In this course we will discuss various methods and techniques to classify, characterize, and understand differential equations and their solutions. The techniques can be broadly organized into three types:
  • 1) Analytical: How can one write down explicit expressions to a given differential equation?
  • 2) Qualitative: Can one understand the general behavior of solutions and how they vary with changes in system parameters?
  • 3) Numerical: How can solutions be approximated using numerical algorithms and a computer?
  • Throughout, emphasis will be made on mathematical modeling with examples drawn from applications in the natural and social sciences.


    "Differential Equations," by Blanchard, Devaney, Hall, 4th edition; ISBN 978-1133109037. A copy is available on reserve at the BU science & engineering library. You will also need a copy of the DE tools software that comes with the textbook, this can be downloaded for free on the publishers website . Note you will Java runtime software (v8) to run this software.

    Approximate Course Schedule

  • Week 1: Sec. 1.1 - 1.2
  • Week 2: Sec. 1.2 - 1.5
  • Week 3: Sec. 1.5 - 1.7
  • Week 4: Sec. 1.7-1.9
  • Week 5: Review, Midterm 1
  • Week 6: Sec. 2.1 - 2.3
  • Week 7: Sec. 2.4 - 2.6 (no class Mon. 10/11, Monday schedule on Tues. 10/12, A2,A3 discussions do not meet)
  • Week 8: Sec. 2.7, 3.1, 3.2
  • Week 9: Sec. 3.2 - 3.4
  • Week 10: Sec. 3.5-3.7
  • Week 11: Summarizing, Review, Midterm 2
  • Week 12: Sec. 4.1-4.3
  • Week 13: Sec 4.3,4.4,5.1 (Thanksgiving week, no classes Wed. 11/24, Thur 11/25, A4-A6 discussions do not meet this week.)
  • Week 14: Sec. 5.2, 6.1, 6.2
  • Week 15: Sec. 6.3, 6.4, Review


    Weekly homework and associated readings will be posted on the course webpage. You are required to write out, scan, and submit homework via Gradscope (details below) each Thursday at 9:00am. No late work will be accepted. To accomodate unforseen happenings, illness, etc. your lowest two scores will be dropped. The first homework assignment, due on 9/9, is graded on completion only, and is meant to get you acquainted with Gradescope. If you submit this assignment on time you will get full credit. Homework will consist of two components, assigned problems which must be written up and turned in, as well as suggested problems which are meant to give you extra practice in understanding the concepts for the week and are not to be turned in. See this link for guidelines on the homework (including some links on how to use Gradescope) and an example of a homework solution. This will also be discussed in class.


    Weekly quizzes will be given online in Blackboard. They will typically resemble (or be drawn from) problems in previous homeworks and will be time limited. Once you begin the quiz, you will have 15 minutes to enter your answers and submit them. Quizzes are meant to be quick little checks to see how well you recall and synthesize course materials in a timed, "on-the-fly" environment. Each quiz will be released on Thursday at 11am, and must be completed by Friday 11am. You must take these quizzes on your own. Your lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.


    There will be two midterms during the semester. They will be held during lecture on Thursday, September 30th and Thursday November, 11th at the regular lecture time and location. Logistics of each exam will be discussed during class.

    Final Exam

    The tentative date for the final exam is Wednesday, December 15th, 9am-11am, in the normal lecture location. The finalized date will be announced when the registrar sets it. No early finals will be given and please do not plan your end-of-semester travel until the precise date and time are set.


    Your course grade will be assigned as follows
  • Homework scores (15% - two lowest scores dropped)
  • Quizzes (10% - two lowest scores dropped),
  • Midterm 1 (20%)
  • Midterm 2 (25%)
  • Final exam (30%)
  • Classroom policies

  • Questions are always welcome during lecture. Please raise your hand. Sometimes, due to time restraints or flow of the lecture I may have to delay a question till another section, or after class.
  • The use of cellphones, laptops, or the internet in class, when not part of class activities (i.e. to take notes, read the textbook, etc...), is forbidden. Such activities can be very disruptive, distracting, and disrespectful to those around you and are not conducive to a productive learning environment. Furthermore, there are many people in this course, so small disturbances (such as whispering to your neighbor, listening to music with headphones, browsing the internet, etc...) can add up and become disruptive to the lecture.
  • We will follow all BU health policies regarding mask-wearing. You are welcome to let me know if you cannot attend class due to illness and/or required isolation. Following BU policy, we will work with you to keep you up to date with class materials and assignments.
  • Please be at lecture on time. I understand that things come up once in a while, but if you are late please do not walk in front of me while I'm lecturing. It can be very distracting.

    How to be successful in this class

  • Attend and be an active participant in lectures and discussion sections.
  • Read the corresponding sections of the textbook (it's very readable!) before class and try to work through some of the examples. This will help you follow along in lecture!
  • Do all the of the homework problems (assigned and suggested) and discuss them with classmates, the T.F., and myself!
  • Get help as soon as possible when you don't understand a concept (see below)

    Getting Help

  • Post and answer questions on the course campuswire page. Both myself and the TF will keep an eye on these pages. Someone might have the same question as you!
  • Feel free to come to office hours, or make an appointment to get help with course work and materials.
  • If you start to feel that you are falling behind, be proactive and take steps to catch up. The concepts of the course build on each other so if you wait to get help it will only become more difficult to catch up!
  • If you need more help feel free to visit the math department tutoring room for more help.
  • See also the Math Help Night for another option.


    I would like to experiment with the Campuswire platform. I will email out a registration link to this course messaging/question/posting software. There you will be able to post, answer, like, and follow questions about course materials, problems, etc... The TF and I will try to answer questions on this board regularly, but we encourage you to discuss and answer questions with your fellow classmates. We hope this will be helpful as asking questions as well as seeing and answering those of others can be very helpfult to learn! Please be respectful, encouraging, and supportive! If you have a more private matter to discuss about the course, feel free to use the "direct message" feature in CampusWire or email myself of the TF. Please do keep mind that this is a forum meant for this course. Extraneous, disrepectful, or erroneous posts will not be allowed. Announcements for the course will be posted on the course webpage as well as on Campuswire. Occasionally I may also email out something to the class. Please try to check both campuswire and your BU email, preferably daily. Email response policy: During the work week, I aim to answer any emails received within 24 hours (most of the time sooner). During the weekend, I may not answer until Sunday evening. Finally, late night emails may not be replied to until the day after.

    Excused absenses and make-up exams

    Please let me know about all religious observances at the beginning of the semester. As mentioned above, there will be no make-ups for quizzes or homeworks. In extreme circumstances (religious observance, death in the family, emergency, illness) there can be make-ups for exams. If possible, please tell me during the first week of school if you will need a make-up exam.

    Students with disabilities

    Please contact me as soon as possible. I am happy to work with you and the BU office of disability services.

    Academic code of conduct

    Please do not cheat. Furthermore, copying of answers from a friend, solution manual, online solution, or online help platform (such as Chegg) is detrimental to your learning and is not allowed. Submitting work that is not yours is not allowed. You will be held to the BU academic code of conduct.

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