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Syllabus of Math 308, Section 200 (honors)

Differential Equations, Spring 2011

Instructor Peter Kuchment

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

E-mail:, 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.


The prerequisite for this class is Math 251 or equivalent and eligibility for a honors class. Some experience with the computer algebra system Maple 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. Two take-home exams, 50 points each. 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.

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.


Maple will be used sparingly, in the situations when geometric visualization is needed, or when equations are too complicated to be solved by hand. Students will be usually allowed to use Maple on tests to check their solutions, while in most cases a complete solution by hand will be required.
Please look at the document "Math Dept Computer Help" and other links at the Web page These will provide you with useful information about obtaining help and other issues.
You can find some simple examples of Maple usage for solving differential equations if you save the target file by clicking with the right mouse button here.
When an assignment requires usage of Maple, submission of the Maple printout with your solutions is the preferred method.
If you would like to purchase your own copy of Maple, there is the following option: Maplesoft has a special offer called the Maple Adoption Program, where students at schools that have adopted Maple can purchase Maple 12 for $55 at their web site. The students must be currently enrolled in a course which requires or recommends the use of Maple (and you are). The Maple Adoption Program also provides on-line training in Maple for the students. This is all explained at the web site

Tentative schedule of the course


Chapters and sections

Home assignments

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


Introduction to differential equations. Sections 1.1, 1.2, 1.4

Assignment #1.

Quiz #1 (classification of differential equations). January 20th.


Equations of 1st order. Sections 2.1 - 2.6

Assignment #2. Assignment #3.

Exam #1 (ODEs of 1st order)


Numerics. Sections 1.3, 2.7, 2.8

Assignment #4h.


6 - 8

1st order systems. Sections 3.1 - 3.7

Assignment #5. Assignment #6.

Take home Exam #2 on 1st order Systems. Due March 31st.





10 - 12

2nd order equations. Sections 4.1 - 4.8

Assignment #7. Due April 19th

Exam 3 on 2nd order equations. April 21st.

13 - 15 )

Laplace transform & miscellanea. Sections 5.1 - 5.7, possibly 5.8, 5.9

Take home Exam 4 on Laplace transforms. Due May 3rd.

Office hours before the final exam (in Blocker 614A): Monday May 2nd, 3-3:45pm. Wednesday May 4th, 2-3:30pm.

Final exam: May 6, Friday. 3 - 5 p.m.


Percentage of points


90% and higher


80% and higher


70% and higher


60% and higher


Less than 60%


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.

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 Services for Students with Disabilities (Cain Hall, Room B118, or call 845-1637).

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 studentοΎ’s 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

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Last revised November 4th, 2010