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Applied Problem Solving with Matlab (10.317)
Course Description and Requirements

Course Description
The focus of this course will be to develop your problem solving skills for a broad range of technical applications. Matlab will be used as the programming environment, since it gives all the key elements of a full programming language yet its large inventory of built-in functions and relatively concise syntax allows the solution of complex problems within reasonably short, well-structured programs. Applied numerical methods will be introduced as a means for solving a wide variety of engineering problems. The numerical methods to be studied include topics such as roots of equations, systems of linear equations, curve fitting, numerical integration, ordinary differential equations, etc., with the emphasis on how to use these methods to solve engineering problems. The goal here will be to develop an inventory of standard mathematical and numerical analysis tools and a good understanding of the programming syntax within Matlab to allow one to use these tools in practical applications. The development of good communications skills for the documentation of engineering analyses is also stressed as a key goal of this course.

The course will be applications-oriented, but a fair amount of mathematics will be used, as needed, to allow us to formulate, solve, and analyze technical problems. A series of design and analysis applications from various engineering disciplines will be used to illustrate the key concepts from the course. Overall, this course should provide you with a variety of practical Matlab programming and general problem-solving skills, and these abilities should be very useful throughout your remaining technical courses at the University and in your subsequent professional careers.

Steven C. Chapra, Applied Numerical Methods with Matlab for Engineers and Scientists, McGraw Hill (2005).

Amos Gilat, Matlab -- An Introduction with Applications, 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons (2005).

"MATLAB Student Version Release 14 SP3," The Mathworks, Inc. (2005). Note that purchasing the Student Edition of Matlab is not required, since Matlab is available in the Department Computer Lab. However, it is highly recommended as a good investment if you have your own computer! Note that version R2006a is currently available in the lab.

J. R. White, "Applied Problem Solving with Matlab: Additional Course Materials (Fall 2006)." This booklet, which is available from the bookstore, contains some general course information, a quick reference to the many Matlab demos available on the web, and a set of detailed worked-out applications that illustrate the various problem-solving techniques discussed throughout the course. A written version of the lecture notes is also available for some of the early lectures.

A solid foundation in mathematics through differential equations is expected. Some introductory background with a structured programming language would also be helpful.

Course Website

Course Requirements
The requirements for this course include two exams during the semester, a comprehensive final exam, several short quizzes, and a variety of homework assignments and projects. The homework/projects will be collected and graded for technical content, style and grammar, and for overall professional appearance. The graded homework and projects represent a significant part of the evaluation process for this course since it is expected that a large part of the learning of the course material will be associated with the student’s effort on the homework assignments. Late homework will be accepted and recorded as being complete, but severe late penalties will be applied. A maximum grade of 50% will be given for any late work since some solutions are discussed in class and all solutions are posted shortly after the assignments are collected. Also note that HW assignments are due at the beginning of class!!!

Short quizzes may also be given during class lectures to address key concepts from previous classes and from the assigned reading. These quizzes will be evaluated and the quiz grades will be integrated into your homework grade for the course.

Also, with only two exams required during the semester and a final exam during Finals Week, it is expected that everyone will be present for the scheduled examinations -- thus, no makeup exams will be given (except for extreme emergency situations)!!! Since the quizzes are unannounced, this no-makeup policy also applies to the quizzes -- so you should plan to attend classes on a regular basis.

Grading Policy
The final grade for this course will be determined as follows:

Two Semester Exams
Final Exam (3 hrs)

Course Coordinator
Dr. John R. White
Office: EB302
Phone: 978-934-3165
Fax: 978-934-3047

Note: My office hours for this semester will be posted outside my office and on my website at during the first week of the semester -- as soon as my schedule becomes finalized.

Last updated by Prof. John R. White (Sept. 2006)

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