MAT 331: Computer Assisted Mathematical Problem Solving
Spring 2017
Raluca Tanase

Course Information

Course Description

Exploration of the use of the computer as a tool to gain insight into complex mathematical problems through a project-oriented approach. Students learn both the relevant mathematical concepts and ways that the computer can be used (and sometimes misused) to understand them. Interesting applications of mathematics to computer science are also discussed. Some of the specific topics that we will try to study this semester include linear algebra, graph theory and Markov chains, number theory and cryptography, dynamical systems and fractals, differential equations and computer graphics.

Click here to download a copy of the course syllabus. Please visit the course website on Blackboard.

Lectures & Office Hours

Instructor: Raluca Tanase
Lectures: Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:30-12:50pm in Mathematics S235;
Office hours: Tuesdays 1-2pm in MLC (next to the computer lab)
                       Thursdays 1-3pm in Math Tower 4-120, or by appointment.

Teaching Assistant: Nancy Hong
Office hours: Wednesdays 12-1pm in Mathematics S235 (computer lab).


We will use Mathematica, which is a computational software program developed by Wolfram Research and used in many scientific, engineering, mathematical and computing fields, based on symbolic mathematics. Mathematica has a comprehensive documentation that we will make use of. Mathematica 10.3 is available for most operating systems (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc.).

Stony Brook students can download the Windows/Mac/Linux version of Mathematica from Softweb. You need your Stony Brook netID and netID password to log in to Softweb. To obtain an Activation Key for Mathematica you must visit the Wolfram User Portal. If it's your first time visiting the Wolfram User Portal, you must create a Wolfram ID and follow the steps in there to request an Activation Key.

In addition, you can use any of the campus SINC sites, or you can access the Virtual SINC site.

Grading Policy

There will be no exams. Grades will be computed using the following scheme:

Students are expected to attend class regularly and to keep up with the material presented in the lecture and the assigned reading. There will be roughly five homework assignments (containing short exercises involving mathematical proofs and Mathematica code) as well as three or four projects. You may work together on your homework assignments and projects, and you are encouraged to do so. However, all solutions must be written up independently.
A project is more like a term paper and you will be expected to devote a significant amount of time to doing it, as well as taking care with its presentation. The project should contain a detailed description of the problem or topic, what means were used to solve it, the mathematical solution and proofs, and the computer program (interactive model in Mathematica). The last project of the class may include also a short oral presentation at the end of the semester.

Last updated February 2017