MATH 320: Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, Fall 2015


Course Details:


Instructor: Saverio Spagnolie

Lecture times / room: MWF 9:55-10:45am, Van Vleck B239

Office hours:

Spagnolie: MW 3-4pm, F 1-2pm (in VV 505), or by appointment

Yang Yang: TR 9:50-10:50am (VV 418)

Ke Ma: T 4:30-5:30pm, R 3:40-4:25pm (Van Vleck Hall, 101 [#22])


This semester we will be using as a forum for communication; all class-related discussion will be conducted there so that you can enjoy the collective knowledge of your classmates and instructors. I encourage you to ask questions when you are struggling to understand concepts - you can even do so anonymously.

Course Content:

Differential equations are the fundamental tools that modern science and engineering use to model physical reality. The importance of differential equations to these disciplines cannot be overemphasized. A distinct subject in its own right, linear algebra is a part of mathematics concerned with the structure inherent in mathematical systems. We shall study these subjects together for three reasons: (1) The viewpoint of linear algebra is immensely helpful in uncovering the order underlying the topic of differential equations; it helps us understand the "why" and not just the "how" of our calculations. (2) Linear algebra is essential to the theory of differential equations. And (3) linear algebra is crucial to the computer approximations which are often the only way to solve the most challenging differential equations. Accordingly, the course will include a computational component.


Edwards and Penney, Differential Equations and Linear Algebra, Third Edition, Prentice Hall.

Exam dates:

Three midterm exams will be held during the regularly scheduled class time. The exams will be held in class on Wednesday Oct. 7, Monday Nov. 16, and Monday Dec. 14.


The final grade will be set by scores on homework and sectional quizzes (25%) three midterm exams (25% each). The lowest homework score will be dropped. The scores will be no less friendly than: A (>93%), AB (88%-92%), B (83%-87%), BC (78%-82%), C (70%-77%), D (60%-69%), F (<60%).


Homework will be assigned weekly and due at the beginning of class (otherwise it will be considered late). Staple your homework. You are allowed (and encouraged) to work with others, but you must turn in your own assignment. Late homework will be accepted until 5pm on the due date with a 20% penalty. Finally, write clearly. I have instructed the TAs not to waste time trying to interpret poorly communicated mathematics, and instead to simply take points off.