MA 226 Differential Equations, Course Information

Academic Conduct: Your conduct in this course, as with all BU courses, is governed by the BU Academic Conduct Code. Copies of the code are available from the CAS Dean's office (CAS 105) or here.. Specifics rules for specific assignments will be discussed in lecture.

The "Golden Rule" of academic conduct is to "Give Credit Where Credit is Due". That is, if you use or consult a source, including a book, journal, web page or person, then cite that source (i.e., give sufficient information so that someone reading your work could determined what information you used and be able to find the source). The details of the form necessary in citation vary greatly from subject to subject, but the basic rule is universal.

If you have any doubt about any aspect of proper citation or academic conduct in general, ask!.

Who should take this class? (Prerequisites): I will assume that you have had, and remember, a full year of Calculus (i.e., Calculus 1 and 2). You will be expected to remember how to do derivatives and integrals and remember the basic ideas behind these operations. (While all other topics will be introduced "from scratch" those who have had Multivariable Calculus will have a definite advantage from chapter 2 on since you have had more practice with Calculus and you have seen vector fields.)

Text: Differential Equations by Blanchard, Edition

We will cover almost all of the first 4 chapters, some of chapters 5 and 6. You will need software to solve differential equations numerically. There are many places this is available for free--or you can write your own (which is an excellent exercise--even using Excel).

Technology: Information for the course will be presented through the course home page and announcements will be sent out to the official e-mailing list kept by the registrar. You are responsible for making sure that email sent to the email address kept by the registrar reaches you and that you regularly check this email account.

Blackboard MAY be used, but only to post grades. Make sure you pick up and save all returned homeworks, quizzes, tests and labs and hang on to them until the end of the semester. This is the only way to verify that your recorded grades are correct.

Special Note: If you take notes on your laptop or other internet enabled divice then you are required to email me a copy of your notes within 15 minutes of the end of class.

Grades: During the semester you will accumulate points by doing homework, in class exams and the final. At the end of the semester the points will be added with the weighting given below and your grade will be determined based on the total points accumulated. Correspondence between letter grades and point values will be announced for the inclass exams.

Weights for components of the course work are as follows:


Special Note: If you take notes on your laptop or other internet enabled divise then you are required to email me a copy of your notes within 15 minutes of the end of class.


Study groups: I encourage you to form study groups and to spend some (not all) of your study time with your group. Make absolutely sure that you abide by the requirements of the Academic Conduct Code and the rules for each assignment. In particular, you should write up your assignment on your own. Papers which are too similar will be subject to action under the Academic Conduct Code porcedures. Also, if you get a significant idea or assistance from a tutor or a classmate, BE SURE to reference them ("Thank you to So A. So for suggesting I integrate by parts on problem 3.").

Pedagogy: I have heard it said that students learn approximately 5% of the material for a class in lecture. This is usually quoted to justify doing away with lectures. However, about 5% of my body is my head and I would not want to do without that.

In fact, I think that the 5% figure is about right. You learn mathematics by doing mathematics, doing exercises and writing up solutions carefully so that your answers can be easily understood. Being able to do problems is the goal. However, seeing examples and hearing the important points discussed before trying to do the problems yourself is much more efficient than reconstructing all the mathematics for yourself. So think of the lectures as how you prepare to do the real work of learning the material--doing the exercises yourself.

Final comment: Too many students consider their courses hoops that they must jump through in order to reach a degree. This philosophy implies that you only need to keep the material in your head until the final. This is just wrong.

There are two goals for this course. The first is to learn the techniques involved in applying the Calculus (that you already know!) to the study of differential equations.

The second, and more important, goal is to provide you with a new and quantitative and qualitative ways of investigating the physical world. To be successful, you must train yourself to "see" differential equations in the world around you and to use that vision to give a new way of understanding and predicting behavior.