Syllabus – Math 3315, Introduction Scientific Computing, Spring 2018


Daniel R. Reynolds

Class and Office Hours:

Lecture: 126 Clements Hall, Tu/Th, 12:30-1:50 pm.

Labs: 485 Caruth Hall, M 12-7:20 pm.

Office Hours: 139 Clements Hall, Tu/W/Th 2-3 pm, W 9-11 am, or by appointment (arrange by email).


A. Quarteroni, F. Saleri and P. Gervasio, Scientific Computing with MATLAB and Octave, Springer, 4th edition, 2014. (ISBN: 9783642453663)

Course Description:

MATH 3315 – Introduction to Scientific Computing [3 credits]

An elementary survey course that includes techniques for root-finding, interpolation, functional approximation, linear equations, and numerical integration. Special attention is given to MATLAB programming, algorithm implementations, and library codes. Students registering for this course must also register for an associated computer laboratory.

Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH 1338 or 1340, and in CSE 1341 or 1342. Corequisite: MATH 3304 (formerly MATH 3353).

Student Learning Objectives:

  • Math Major SLO 2: Students will be able to write computer programs to solve scientific problems.
  • Math Major SLO 3: Students will be able to select appropriate algorithms to solve various computational problems from science and engineering.

Computer Labs:

The computer lab is located in 485 Caruth Hall. It is reserved for students in the three sections of this course on Mondays from 12:00-6:00 pm and on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:50 pm. Students must register for one of the computer labs, which is offered to help students complete project work. Attendance at lab sessions is voluntary; however you must show up to have the first half of each project checked by the TA. In addition, you may use the public Lyle computer labs at any time during public access hours.

The TA will be available during all of your lab sessions. The TA’s job is to help you with questions concerning the computer projects; all questions concerning other course material should be addressed to Dr. Reynolds.

Note that the other sections of this course may have different projects. Do not be surprised if other students in your lab have dramatically different questions and due dates from yours. Use the time to work on your own, using the TA (not other students) as a resource.


Reading the assigned sections of the textbook is required, and will be necessary for completing each reading quiz. You are responsible for all of the material in the assigned reading, whether it has been presented in the lecture or not.

Specific passages required for each section are listed on the Reading and Quizzes page.

I will also post recommended sets of problems from the book that you can/should use to help prepare for exams – these will not be turned in. These problems will be indicative of exam questions, so you should make every effort to complete these practice assignments and seek help on all problems that you are unable to solve.

Further information on these problems are listed on the Reading and Quizzes page.


During the first part of the semester you will be required to turn in weekly programming assignments. These will be relatively short, consisting of writing Matlab scripts and/or functions to perform simple tasks. These are designed for you to increase your skill and confidence with Matlab programming. These programs must be turned in on Canvas.

Late work will lose points based on the following schedule:

  • 1 minute to 24 hours – 20 points
  • 24 hours to 48 hours – 50 points
  • over 48 hours – no credit

The homework assignments, along with any relevant example codes, are provided on the Homework page. The Matlab Access page has helpful Matlab resources.

Unlike the quizzes and practice problems, all programming assignments must be done on your own (with help from the TAs and instructor). The goal of these assignments is for you to improve your skills; that cannot happen if you get too much assistance.


In the second half of the semester, you will be required to do a reading quiz before nearly every class day. This will be very short, will cover material from your reading, and will be due before the material is presented in lecture. These “warmup” quizzes must be completed on Canvas before the beginning of class (late work will not be accepted). If all problems are attempted, the lowest possible grade you can attain on this is a 70.

I strongly encourage that you discuss the reading quizzes and all practice assignments with fellow students.

Computer Projects:

There will be 2 programming projects during the latter portion of the semester. These assignments will be discussed in class, and posted on the Projects page. Each will consist of writing and running Matlab programs to solve computational problems, along with a written report on the problems and results.

Each project will have two phases, an initial phase where you will build a tool, and a second phase where you will use that tool to solve a problem. The first (tool-building) phase must typically be completed one week prior to the required due date, and will be checked by the TA during your lab session.

You will submit the project codes and report separately to Canvas:

  • The report must be a single ”.pdf” file, so that we can use Canvas’ markup features for grading.
  • All other files (codes, output, plots, etc. – even those provided by the professor but that are used in your project) should be combined into a single ”.zip” or ”.tgz” file. These will be run by the TA, so do not forget or modify any files from what you used in generating results for your report.

Late work will lose points based on the following schedule:

  • 1 minute to 24 hours – 10 points
  • 24 hours to 48 hours – 30 points
  • over 48 hours – no credit

The project assignments, along with any relevant example codes, are provided on the Projects page.

The projects involve a substantial amount of work – I strongly recommend that you begin these early and do not procrastinate.


We will have 2 in-class exams, the dates of which are posted on the course web page. The exam questions will be based off of the practice problems and projects. These exams will be non-cumulative, and will be open-book/open-notes, but no calculators are allowed.

This class has no final exam.

The specific sections covered on each exam, as well as practice exams, are provided on the Exams page.


Your course grade will be determined using the following formula:

30% Homework

10% Quizzes

30% Projects

30% Exams

All final grades are assigned on a standard grading scale.

Honor Code:

The SMU Honor Code applies to all homework, projects and exams in this course. Work submitted for evaluation must represent your own individual effort. Any giving or receiving of aid without my express consent on academic work submitted for evaluation shall constitute a breach of the SMU Honor Code.

I take honor code violations very seriously, and will report all violations to the SMU Honor Council. The minimum penalty for a violation is a “0” on the assignment, and the maximum penalty is immediate failure of the course. These penalties are in addition to those imposed by the SMU Honor Council.

Examples of honor code violations include:

  • Submitting a computer program which includes a function/script, or even part of a function or script, written by anyone else (other than the instructor or TA). This includes programs written by other students, tutors, and programs downloaded from the internet.
  • Submitting computer outputs (numerical results or plots) produced by someone else’s program.
  • Submitting computer outputs with fabricated results.
  • Supplying your own work for another student to copy.

A generally applicable rule of thumb in this course is: you are encouraged to talk about program strategy (algorithms from the book, helpful websites, etc.) all you want, but you should never look at another student’s codes or project report.

See the SMU Honor Code website for more information.

SMU Regulations:

Disability Accommodations: Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first register with Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS). Students can call 214-768-1470 or visit to begin the process. Once registered, students should then schedule an appointment with the professor as early in the semester as possible, present a DASS Accommodation Letter, and make appropriate arrangements. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice to implement.

Religious Observance: Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify their professors in writing at the beginning of the semester, and should discuss with them, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence. (See University Policy No. 1.9.)

Excused Absences for University Extracurricular Activities: Students participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled University extracurricular activity should be given the opportunity to make up class assignments or other graded assignments missed as a result of their participation. It is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with the instructor prior to any missed scheduled examination or other missed assignment for making up the work. (University Undergraduate Catalogue)

Campus Carry: In accordance with Texas Senate Bill 11, also known as the “campus carry” law, following consultation with entire University community SMU determined to remain a weapons-free campus. Specifically, SMU prohibits possession of weapons (either openly or in a concealed manner) on campus. For more information, please see: