MATLAB in Math 246

The use of the mathematical software package MATLAB will be an important feature of the course. We will use MATLAB as an aid in: symbolically solving differential equations; numerically solving differential equations; graphing those solutions; analyzing the behavior of the solutions, both quantitatively and qualitatively; and communicating our understanding to others. You will use MATLAB outside of class (in OWL/WAM Labs, on your personal computer, or elsewhere) to solve problems from HOLR, and problems from NODE if you so choose.

Policy on MATLAB Homework Collaboration

You are required to form small teams to collaborate in preparing solutions to the HOLR-based MATLAB problems. No team may contain more than three members. Teams may contain two members. Teams may vary during the semester; that is, if you wish to change the composition of any team, you may do so at any time--of course, while maintaining the limit of three. No other collaboration is permitted. If individuals or teams collaborate without acknowledgement, penalties will be assessed.

You may submit your solutions in one of two ways: (i) the team works together and submits one write-up with all team members listed on the front; or (ii) each team member submits his own write-up, but collaboration is acknowledged by listing the other team members on the front. I prefer the former, since it makes grading more efficient and reveals the teams more clearly. However, if the individualist inside you demands your own version, that is permissible.

You may form your teams as you wish. If you are a loner, or don't know anyone in class, your GA will be willing to assign students to teams. Experience has shown that students who work in teams: adjust to MATLAB's syntax quicker, spend less time in seemingly hopeless dead-ends, learn more, and actually get higher grades. Participation on a team is mandatory.

NOTE: This policy commences with Problem Set B. All students are expected to do Problem Set A on their own.
The grading of Problem Set A will be informal. That grade will not count toward your Matlab Problem Set score (of 150 points).

NOTE: Team homework should be a true collaborative effort. Experience shows that if one individual does all the work, then what the other members of the team miss invariably shows up (more precisely fails to show up) on succeeding exams.

MATLAB Software Versions

The versions of the software that are available to you -- both on and off campus -- might vary. The instructor used version R2014b to prepare all the class materials. (But please note that the 3rd edition of the HOLR book was prepared using R2011b.) A current version should be available in the MATH OWL Lab (room 0203 in the Math Building) as well as in other campus labs. If you have purchased the Student Version recently, it should be version R2012a --- or later. Experience indicates that -- for the most part -- there is little or no difference in the performance of these versions in regard to the subject matter of this course. However, the HOLR authors have found that, starting with R2012a, the output of the dsolve command can be somewhat quirky. We recommend that, if you are surprised or confused by its output, you employ the simplify command to modify the output. If you encounter other problems with the software, please indicate so to your GA at the earliest opportunity.

Formatting Your Work for Presentation

You will use MATLAB to solve mathematical problems involving ordinary differential equations in this course. There still remains the issue of how you transmit those solutions to others, in particular in what form to hand them in for grading. You should submit your work by creating an "M" file, using individual cells in the "M" file for each problem, and putting the problem number at the beginning of the cell as a comment. (Alternatively, you may create an m-file for each problem.) You can split up a multi-part problem into multiple cells, as long as you label each cell appropriately. Then you should use one of the "publish to html" or "publish to pdf" options to create nice-looking output -- either of which can be displayed by matlab or opened with a web browser or acrobat reader. Then print that file for submission. Your answers should be presented in the order that the problems are assigned. If you use more than one sheet of paper, they should be stapled together. The top of the first page should include: your name, the names of other members of your team, course and section number, your discussion section instructor's name, and the date the assignment is due.

The above is the default method to present MATLAB output in this course. There are other methods -- e.g., the use of M-Books, in which one runs Microsoft Word as a front end for MATLAB. If you employ this or any other alternate method, that should be noted on your submission. (M-Book techniques and other methods of 'publishing' MATLAB are discussed in Chapter 7 of the recommended text, A Guide to MATLAB. Cell mode and other handy tips for using the MATLAB interface may be found in Chapter 3 of this reference.)

Matlab Tutoring

The Mathematics Department assigns teaching assistants to assist Math 246 students with software issues. The MATLAB Tutoring schedule is TBA.

Computer Lab Locations and Hours

The Math OWL Lab in room 0203 in the Math building is open Mon-Fri, 8AM-4PM. The official list of WAM and other OWL locations and hours is maintained by OIT. It is located at Campus Computer Labs.

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