Numerical Methods, MAT 350
Autumn 2001


Lecture: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 12:45 to 13:40 in S&E 324.

Instructor: Brett van de Sande,

Office hours: By appointment; send me an E-mail if you can not find me.

Textbook: Numerical Recipes in FORTRAN or Numerical Recipes in C by W. Press, S. Teukolsky, W. Vetterling, and B. Flannery, Cambridge University Press. Students will also need a box of floppy disks.

Grading: 80% for a series of "mini-projects" done as homework assignments and 20% for the final exam.


Programming: This course involves a substantial amounts of programming on the part of the student. Students may choose between C (or C++) and FORTRAN. If you are familiar with either of the two languages, feel free to continue using it. Each student must own a reference book (or textbook) for the programming language that they choose. Each student must bring their book to class and show it to the instructor.

There will also be occasions where results will have to be graphed. There are several possibilities for accomplishing this: one would be to use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. One could also use MATLAB or Gnuplot; see my Guide to Using Gnuplot.

Also, students will be required to do background reading at several World Wide Web sites as well as download standard subroutines from various Internet sites. Further course information can be found at the MAT 350 web page:; this page will be updated throughout the term.

Concerning collaboration: I encourage students to discuss with each other how to solve the problems. I also encourage students to look at the example problems in the textbook and elsewhere. However, when you write down your program (or other work) to be handed in, it must be your own work. If the program (or other work) you hand in is copied from another student, a textbook, or elsewhere, that is cheating. If you find yourself in a situation that is questionable, please explain the situation on your homework. For example:

"I got lots of help from John Smith doing problem 3; although I didn't copy, I still don't understand how the subroutine works."
"My dorm burned to the ground yesterday and I lost everything. I then copied Joe Smoke Alarm's homework verbatim; I have no idea what the questions were, let alone the answers."

Homework Assignments

  1. Machine Epsilon
  2. Root Finding Algorithms
  3. Function Minimization
  4. Polynomial Interpolation
  5. Integration
  6. Orthogonal polynomials
  7. Some Linear Algebra
  8. Linear Equations and Eigenvalue problems.
  9. Differential Equations
You should observe the following guidelines:

Mathematical software libraries

Information on compilers and computers

You have several options for writing programs for this class. Here are some hints for programming on the UNIX machines: What? You don't have have a FORTRAN or C compiler on your Microsoft operating system? There are several possible solutions:

Numerical Recipes is a great book, but it is not perfect. Why you should not use Numerical Recipes?