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Syllabus of Math 308, Section 200 (honors)

Differential Equations, Spring 2016

Instructor Peter Kuchment

Office Rm. Blocker 614A, Telephone (979)862-3257

E-mail: kuchment AT, Home Page: /~kuchment


Differential equations form a beautiful and probably the most often applied area of mathematics. They arise in practically all studies involving dynamics. As such, they are either the basis or a crucial part of most human engineering endeavors and scientific studies, from computing planetary and satellite motions, to electromagnetics, to epidemiology, to gas and fluid dynamics, to radio-carbon dating in geology and archeology. The Math308 class will be devoted to the so called Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs) that deal with functions of one variable, versus more complex and also extremely important PDEs (partial differential equations). PDEs, which arise for instance while studying heat conduction, vibrations, fluid dynamics, electromagnetics, and many other areas, will be treated in other classes.

Course objectives:

To provide students with quantitative and problem-solving skills using differential equations. At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Solve basic first order ODEs.
  2. Solve second (and higher) order linear ODE and systems of linear ODEs.
  3. Construct simple ODE models.
  4. Conduct qualitative analysis of ODE models.

Read the textbook, understand the explanations and examples in the text. Solve as many problems as possible. If there is any difficulty, contact the instructor.


The prerequisite for this class is Math 251 or equivalent and eligibility for a honors class. Students are expected to know arithmetic, college algebra, differentiation, and integration. Mistakes in basic mathematics might incur a significant loss of points. Some experience with Matlab would be helpful, albeit it will be very easy to learn what is needed from scratch.

Tests, quizzes, and homework

Two in-class exams, 100 points each. One take-home exam, 50 points. Home assignments and/or quizzes (including unannounced quizzes), 5 to 20 points each. Final exam, 150 points. It is recommended that besides solving home assignments, you look at other problems in the textbook and consult with the instructor if you have any difficulties. You can find some suggested problems here, although it is a good idea to at least browse through other problems as well. In this honors class, some sections will be left to the students to study on their own, with related problems included into homeworks, quizzes, and tests.
Home assignments are due Thursday the week after the one when they were assigned.

It is advised that besides doing homework, students try to solve other problems after the sections studied and check their solutions against the answers provided at the end of the textbook. In case of any difficulties contact the instructor.

Tentative schedule of the course



Home assignments

Tests and quizzes (dates are somewhat flexible and will be confirmed closer to a test).

1, Jan 19, 21

Ch 1.

Assignment #1. Due January 28th (at the beginning of the class).

Quiz #1 (classification of differential equations). January 28th.


Ch. 2 + Sect. 8.1, 8.2

Assignment #2, Due February 4th. Assignment #3, Due February 18th

Exam #1 (ODEs of 1st order). February 16th.

4 - 6

Ch. 3

Assignments #4, #5, #6

Exam #2 (2nd order ODEs)

7 - 9

Ch. 7

Assignments #7 - 9

Take home Exam on 1st order Systems and Laplace transform.

10 - 11

Ch. 6

12 - 13

Ch. 9, 5

Office hours before the final exam (in Blocker 614A): To Be Announced.

Final exam: May 5th, Thursday. 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.


Percentage of points


90% and higher


80% and higher


70% and higher


60% and higher


Less than 60%


Some useful information

  1. Integration reminder sheet (courtesy of Dr J.M. Linhart)
  2. Rules of differentiation and integration. See also a brief table here.
  3. List of common algebra mistakes.

Class rules

  1. Cell phones and other personal electronics should be silent and put away during the class.
  2. Students log into the classroom computers only when directed by the instructor to do so.
  3. Classroom computers are to be used only for the class purposes (no Web browsing, etc.)
  4. Be corteous to each other.
  5. Do not be tardy.
  6. Attendance will be checked from time to time.
  7. Students violating the class rules might be asked to leave the room.

Make-up policy:

Make-ups for missed quizzes, home assignments and exams will only be allowed for a university approved excuse in writing. Wherever possible, students should inform the instructor before an exam or quiz is missed. Consistent with University Student Rules , students are required to notify an instructor by the end of the next working day after missing an exam or quiz. If there are confirmed circumstances that do not allow this (a written confirmation is required), the student has two working days to notify the instructor. Otherwise, they forfeit their rights to a make-up.

Late work

Late work will not be accepted, unless there is an university approved excuse in writing. In the latter case student has a week to submit the work.

Grade complaints:

Sometimes the instructor might make a mistake grading your work. If you feel that this has happened, you have one week since the graded work was handed back to you to talk to the instructor. If a mistake is confirmed, the grade will be changed. No complaints after that deadline will be considered.

Help Sessions

A link to the help session schedule will be provided on the web site below later this week.

Students with Disabilities:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845-1637. For additional information, visit

Copyright policy:

All printed materials disseminated in class or on the web are protected by Copyright laws. One xerox copy (or download from the web) is allowed for personal use. Multiple copies or sale of any of these materials is strictly prohibited.

Scholastic dishonesty:

Copying work done by others, either in class or out of class, looking on other students papers during exams or quizzes, having possession of unapproved information in your calculator/computer/phone, etc., and/or having someone else do your work for you are all acts of scholastic dishonesty. These acts, and other acts that can be classified as scholastic dishonesty, will be prosecuted to the full extent allowed by University policy. In this class, collaboration on graded assignments, either in class or out of class, is forbidden unless permission to do so is granted by the instructor. For more information on university policy regarding scholastic dishonesty, see University Student Rules at
"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." Visit and follow the rules of the Aggie Honor Code.


This syllabus is subject to change at the instructor's discretion

Back to P. Kuchment's Home Page

Last revised February 11th, 2016