Math 551 Course Info

  • Course Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-3:45PM in LGRT 143.

  • Instructor
    Michael Sullivan, LGRT 1323G, 545-1909
    Office Hours: Tues 1:15-2:15, Thurs 11:00-12:00, Thurs 1:15-2:15. You can also make an appointment or drop by anytime Tues, Thurs, Fri. I am not on campus Mon and Weds (usually). If you want help by email instead of in person, a yes/no question is much more likely to receive an answer.

  • Another instuctor
    Professor Yao Li and I have agreed to ``pool" office hours since we are both teaching 551 (same book, same syllabus, same midterm). If you cannot attend mine you may try his which are Monday 4-5pm, Weds 4-5pm and Friday 2:30-3:30pm in LGRT 1340. Please do not email him questions though. His hours are subject to change, so check his webpage for up-to-date info.

  • Grader/TA
    Kader Geraldo, LGRT 1235M, geraldo at math dot umass dot edu
    Office hour: Weds 1:00pm-2:00pm.

  • Prerequisites: Math 233, Math 235 and CS 121 or knowledge of a scientific programming language, such as Java, C, Python, or Matlab.

  • Credit: 3 credit hours

  • Required: A First Course in Numerical Methods, Authors: Uri M. Ascher and Chen Greif, Publisher: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), 2011
    UMass has an Institutional SIAM Membership. Thus, a free e-book is available through the UMass library. As a side note, make sure that you are connected to the UMass Amherst Libraries network (if not, you can still have off-campus access by clicking "Off-campus login" and entering your SPIRE ID and password). Of course, a physical copy of the book can be purchased directly from the publisher, SIAM at
    Click here for errata in the book.

  • Course content: The course will introduce basic numerical methods used for solving problems that arise in different scientific fields. Properties such as accuracy of methods, their stability and efficiency will be studied. Students will gain practical programming experience in implementing the methods. Like the book, we will use Matlab for our programming language.

  • Syllabus All sections are from book. Timing and content tentative.
    Numerical Algorithms: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 (week 1,2. MATLAB overview.)
    Roundoff errors: 2.1, 2.2 (week 2,3)
    Nonlinear equations: 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 9.1 (week 3-5)
    Linear Systems--direct methods: 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.6, 5.8 (week 6-8. Midterm March 1, 7-9pm)
    Linear Systems--iterative methods: 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 (week 9,10)
    Interpolation: 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6 (week 10-12)
    Integration: 15.1, 15.2 (week 13,14)

  • Exams: The midterm will be closed-book on Thursday March 1 7-9pm in Thom 102. The closed-book final exam is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday May 8 3:30-5:30 in Goessmann Lab Addition room 151. Please monitor Spire for any changes in final exam scheduling. The final is cummulative, with emphasis on post-midterm material. If you have a University-approved conflict (see the link in this paragraph) with an exam, you must let me know at least two weeks before the exam. A make-up exam might be scheduled to take place shortly after the regularly scheduled exam. If so, the make-up exam will be different than the original but cover the same material. You will need to fill out the following sheet signed by the Registrar's office, explaining to me why you are entitled to a make-up. Make sure to not book any travel during exams. Travel is not an excuse to miss the exam. If a last-minute emergency occurs after the two-week deadline, you will need to present to me a note either from your medical provider for medical emergencies or from the Office of the Dean of Students for non-medical emergencies.

  • Grading: The grade for the course has three components: midterm, final and timely-completion of homeworks (which can include coding in Matlab).
    If attendance starts to drop, there MAY be several short in-class quizzes that will supplement the homework grade component. One quiz will have the same weight as a regular HW. These quizzes will be relatively easy. Some may be individual and some group efforts. Occasionally a student will have a legitimate reason to miss a HW or class. For this reason, I will drop one missed HW or quiz score. (If a student has no missed HWs or quizzes, I will drop their lowest score instead.)
    The homework scores and (possible) quiz scores will determine 35% of your grade. Note: UMass does not have the resources to pay for grading entire HWs, so only select problems will be graded. The midterm will be worth 30%. The final exam will be worth 35%.