We will also make use of other resources as listed on the course Resources web page.
Scientific Computing is something of a hybrid
subject, somewhere between
mathematics, computer science, and the other natural sciences.
The fundamental questions in this field deal with approximating
solutions to the equations underlying
mathematical models of physical processes. To construct robust
and accurate approximations
one needs to understand fully the mathematical theories and structures
that lead to exact solutions. However, once an efficient
accurate approximation scheme has been developed mathematically, it
be formalized in an algorithm so that a solution can be computed. Then
the output of the algorithm must be checked with the original physical
model to ensure that the mathematics is representative of reality.
In this course we will look at a wide variety of practical situations where numerical approximation of solutions is needed. Most of these will involve mathematical models of physical processes such as the spread of disease, chemical reactions, and mechanics, as well as models in the social sciences.
Computer Work: Implementation of algorithms will also be an important component of the course. We will be using the computer software system Matlab as our programming environment for algorithm design and analysis. Matlab is the most commopnly used software package for numerical computations in engineering and science. Matlab is located on all of the computers in the MCS lab and elsewhere on campus. An open-source "clone" of Matlab called FreeMat is also available at http://freemat.sourceforge.net/ . There are versions of FreeMat available for Windows/Mac/Linux. FreeMat is about 95% compatible with MatLab and should be adequate for the projects in this course. Another open-source alternative is Octave (http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/).
Matlab is commercial software, and a full version is quite expensive. However, there is a student version available for $99 (http://www.mathworks.com/academia/student_version/). One of the main advantages of the student edition is that it comes with many very useful toolboxes beyond the base-level software (for example, the Symbolic Toolbox that is a powerful package for symbolic algebra). The student edition is a good deal, since academic pricing for Matlab is $500 for the base package and $200 per toolbox.
Course Format: The course
will be structured as a seminar/discussion/lab course. Daily
will be assigned and then discussed in the classroom. Additionally,
class time will be spent on brain-storming algorithm design and
testing. Outside research into applications of computaional
algorithms will be assigned from time to time, with reports given by
students during class. Approximately one day a week will be spent on
computer implementation of computational algorithms.
We will have periodic homework and programming assignments.
will be given out in class and will also be on the course web
There will be 3 projects (or problem sets) during the term. These
will involve a
more in-depth investigation into some course topic than would be
for homework. The final project for the course will involve a
computational application, a written
report and an in-class presentation.
Exams: There will be
no formal exams for the course.
Projects I, II, III 300 pts
Final Project 200 pts
Semester Total 700 pts
Final Projects Presented: Presentations will take place the last week of classes and during the class's scheduled final period, which is Friday, May 18, 8am-10am.
Honor Policy: Students are expected to abide by the college's Academic Honesty Policy. Students are encouraged to discuss with one another topics from the course. However, the work done in the homework assignments, on lab projects, and on the final project should be individual work unless otherwise specified. If you are having difficulty with an assignment you may ask fellow students for assistance in understanding the assignment, but not for assistance in doing the assignment. Feel free to ask me for assistance at any time.
Disability Services: Gustavus Adolphus College is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability (or you think you may have a disability of any nature) and, as a result, need reasonable academic accommodation to participate in class, take tests or benefit from the College’s services, then you should speak with the Disability Services Coordinator, for a confidential discussion of your needs and appropriate plans. Course requirements cannot be waived, but reasonable accommodations may be provided based on disability documentation and course outcomes. Accommodations cannot be made retroactively; therefore, to maximize your academic success at Gustavus, please contact Disability Services as early as possible. Disability Services is located in the Advising and Counseling Center.
Course Web Site: http://www.gac.edu/~hvidsten/courses/MCS355