MAT 331: Mathematical Problem Solving with Computers

Spring 2002

Spring 2002

**General Information:**- This course serves as an introduction to computing for the math student.
After a general introduction to the use of the computers, including use of
email and the world-wide-web, we will turn to more mathematical problems.
We will try to keep the emphasis in this course on the ``problem
solving'' portion of the title: we will take a series of problems and try to
find solutions (or approximate solutions), keeping in mind that we have
access to computers. The discussion of the problems and development of
necessary mathematics will be done in the classroom, and then we will
turn to the computers to explore and work out the solutions.
**Computers:**- We will use the math computer lab in S-235 of the math tower; this lab
contains 30 Sun workstations running Unix, as well as a number of PCs
running Windows 2000. We will be using the Unix machines in class;
however, much of the work can be done on other systems. We will rely heavily
on Maple (a program that can do algebra, calculus, graphics, etc.),
although if other tools are better suited to the task, we may make use of
them. No previous experience with computers is needed.
Maple is available for most platforms (Windows, Macintosh, Unix, etc.); student version of Maple can be purchased from Waterloo Maple for $120. You can also use the campus modem pool to dial-in to the mathlab computers, or access them via the internet.

**Text:**- The text for this course is a set of notes written by
Professors Sutherland and Simanca. These are available on the web
page, and a printed version of much of it will be available in the
undergraduate
mathematics office on the plaza level of the math tower for a
nominal price. You might find it
useful to obtain a book about basic UNIX commands, and/or about Maple.
Most of what you need will be covered in class, but it is often useful to
have a reference at hand. Much material will be made available on the class
web page, at
`http://www.mathlab.sunysb.edu/~mat331` **Projects and Exercises:**- There will be a number of ``exercises'' assigned, as well as three or four
projects (probably 3). An ``exercise'' is like a homework
assignment- something that
you should be able to do in at most a few hours. A ``project'' is more like
a term paper-- you will be expected to devote a significant amount of time
to doing it, as well as taking care with the presentation.
Working together on the projects is encouraged, although each student will be responsible for turning in a write-up of the problem and solution. This should contain a detailed description of the problem or topic, what means were used in solve it, and the solution. These write-ups should be produced by each student individually, and should be detailed enough so that someone who has not taken the class can read and understand them, and will believe the solution is correct. These write-ups are often acceptable for the mathematics writing requirement.

**Grading:**- Your grade will be based on the projects, the exercises, and in-class
participation. Projects will count most heavily (80%). There will be
no exams. Both the expository and computational aspects of the
project write-ups will be graded.
**Special Needs:**- If you have any condition such as a physical or mental disability which will
make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it,
please notify me in the first two weeks of the course so that appropriate
arrangements can be made.
**Instructor:**- Prof. Scott Sutherland, Math Tower 5D-148,
`scott@math.sunysb.edu`. Office hours will be announced later.