CMDA 4604 · Intermediate Topics in Mathematical Modeling

Fall 2015 · Virginia Tech


Lectures: 9.05-9.55pm, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, Patton 215
Instructor: Mark Embree (, McBryde 575, (540) 231-9592
Office hours: Monday 4-5:30pm, Thursday 3:30pm-5pm, or by appointment
You are welcome to join me for lunch at Owens on Wednesdays at 11:45am.
Syllabus: The syllabus/course policy sheet is available here and recapitulated below.
Schedule: A tentative lecture-by-lecture schedule is available here.

Prerequisites: You should know basic matrix concepts (Gaussian elimination, subspaces, eigenvalues, etc.), and ordinary differential equations. MATLAB fluency will be helpful but is not required.
Grade Policy: 50% exams, 50% problem sets
Scores of at least 90, 80, 70, and 60 guarantee grades of at least A-, B-, C-, and D-, respectively. Class participation and engagement in active learning activities will influence borderline grades. Improving performance over the course of the semester will also be considered. Homework and exam grades will be posted on the class Scholar site.
Text: Partial Differential Equations: Analytical and Numerical Methods by Mark Gockenbach, SIAM, 2010. The first edition is also suitable; it is on reserve at the library: QA 377 .G65 2002. Additional references will be posted to the notes and references page of this website.
Exams: Two closed-book exams will each account for 25% of the final grade.
The first exam will be held on Wednesday 14 October from 7-9pm.
The second exam will be held on Friday 11 December from 10.05am-12.05pm.
Problem Sets: Problem sets will be assigned roughly once every 10 days, due by 5pm on the specified date. The last assignment will be an open-ended project that will count twice the weight of a normal problem set (and you will have an extended time to complete it).

Mathematically rigorous solutions are expected; strive for clarity and elegance. Unless it is specified that a particular calculation must be performed `by hand,' you are encouraged to use MATLAB's Symbolic Math Toolbox (or Mathematica/Wolfram Alpha/Maple) to compute and simplify tedious integrals and derivatives on the problem sets.
Late Policy: You may turn in two problem sets one class period late without penalty; further late assignments will be penalized 20% each. Work will not be accepted more than one class late.
Re-Grade Policy: If your work has been graded incorrectly, you may submit a re-grade request. Clearly explain the perceived error on a separate sheet of paper, staple it to the front of your graded paper, and give it to the instructor within one week of the paper's return.
Honor Code: Virginia Tech's Honor Code applies to all work in this class. You are encouraged to discuss the problem sets with others, but your write-up must be your own independent work. Transcribed solutions and copied MATLAB code are both unacceptable. The exams must be your own independent effort.
Programming: Most problem sets will require a modest amount of MATLAB programming, often based on codes provided by the instructor for class demonstrations. Your programs should adhere to good programming standards, and must not be copied from another student, but you can edit codes the instructor posts to this website. For general references, see:
- D. J. Higham and N. J. Higham, MATLAB Guide, 2nd ed.
- Getting Started with MATLAB from MathWorks

Any student with special needs or circumstances requiring accommodation in this course is encouraged
to contact the instructor during the first week of class, as well as the Dean of Students.
We will ensure that these needs are appropriately addressed.