Syllabus for MA 226 -A1, Differential Equations

Syllabus for MA 226 - A1, Differential Equations, Spring 2020

Course Information

Lecturer: Ryan Goh

Office: MCS 243
Office Hours: M 11-12p T 2-4p, or by appointment (please provide your availabilty when contacting me).
Web page:


Time: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10-11am;
Location: CGS 511
Lecture Notes: I will use notes with gaps for lectures. PDFs for the weeks lectures will be posted on the Blackboard website the Sunday night 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: Yixuan (Monica) Zhang

Office: MCS 274
Office Hours: Th 2-4pm
Tutoring room hours: T 2-3pm, MCS B36

Discussion Sections

Note: If you are registered in this class, you must be registered in one of these discussion sections.
Section Place Time
A2 CAS B27 M 12:20 - 1:10pm
A3 PSY B49 M 2:30 - 3:20pm
A4 PSY B49 M 3:35 - 4:25pm
A5 PSY B47, Tu 9:30-10:20am
A6 PHO 202, Tu 11:15 - 12:05

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. 1.3 - 1.5
  • Week 3: Sec. 1.5 - 1.7
  • Week 4: 1.7-1.9
  • Week 5: Review, 2.1, Midterm 1 (no class Mon. 2/18 president's day, Monday schedule on Tues. 2/19)
  • Week 6: 2.1 - 2.5
  • Week 7: 2.5 - 2.7 (3/7-3/15 Spring Break)
  • Week 8: 3.1 - 3.4
  • Week 9: 3.4 - 3.7
  • Week 10: Review, 3.8, Midterm 2, 4.1
  • Week 11: 4.2 - 4.4
  • Week 12: 5.1 - 5.2
  • Week 13: 6.1 - 6.4 (no class 4/20, Monday schedule on Wednesday 4/22)
  • Week 14: 6.6, review, and outlook on next steps in differential equations

    Homework and Quizzes

    Weekly homework and associated readings will be posted on the course webpage. They will be due at the beginning of your discussion section on Monday or Tuesday. No late work will be accepted, but it is ok if you have a classmate turn in a weeks assignment. Your lowest two scores will be dropped. 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. Guidelines on how the homework will be graded will be discussed in class. Weekly quizzes will be given in discussion section. They will typically resemble (or be drawn from) problems in previous homeworks. As with homework, your lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.


    There will be two midterms during the semester. They will be held during lecture on Friday, Febuary 21st and Wednesday, April 1st 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 Tuesday, May 5 9:00am – 11:00am, in the normal lecture location CGS 511. The finalized date will be announced when the registrar sets it. No early finals will be given and please plan your end-of-semester travel accordingly.


    Your course grade will assigned as follows
  • Homework scores (10% - two lowest scores dropped)
  • Quizzes (10% - two lowest scores dropped),
  • Midterm 1 (20%)
  • Midterm 2 (25%)
  • Final exam (35%)
  • 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, when not part of class activities (i.e. to take notes), 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.
  • 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
  • Get help as soon as possible when you don't understand a concept (see below)

    Getting Help

    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 will occasionally make announcements via the course email list kept by the registrar. Please check this email regularly.

    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) there can be make-ups for exams. 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, or online solution set is detrimental to your learning. You will be held to the BU academic code of conduct.

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