Math 53: Winter 2017

Home Syllabus Office Hours Homework and Additional Material

Course Description

This is a first course in ordinary differential equations. The material includes separation of variables and other elementary methods; elements of linear  algebra ( eigenvalues, eigenvectors, matrix diagonalization), systems of linear differential equations;  the method of variation of parameters for solving inhomogeneous system;
stability of equilibria, the Laplace transform;  Fourier series and their applications

This course will focus on  solving concrete problems. Students interested in a  more theoretically oriented course should look into Math 63CM.

For a more detailed syllabus see the schedule of topics.

Prerequisites: Single Variable Calculus (Math 19-20-21, or 41-42, or equivalent); Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus (Mathematics 51 or equivalent)


Prof. Yakov Eliashberg, E-mail:, office 383S

Prof. Tian Yang, E-mail:, office 382F


Christos Mantouldis, E-mail:, office 381K

Ka Yu Tam, E-mail:, office 380M


The text for the course is Differential Equations: An Introduction to Modern Methods and Applications - Second Edition, by Brannan and Boyce. If you have problems finding the textbook at the campus bookstore, please contact your instructor. Additional material will be posted online.

Course website: The course website is

Grading Policies and Exam Dates

Your final grade is calculated by averaging your homework, midterm, and final examination scores as follows:

Homework: 20%
This is a non-trivial portion of your grade, so be sure to spend time completing your homework assignments. (Your lowest homework score will be dropped before this average is computed; this policy is to accommodate exceptional circumstances such as a serious illness.)

Two Midterm Exams: 20% each
The first midterm will be on Thursday, February 2 from 7-9pm in Bishop Auditorium . The second midterm will be Thursday, February 23 from 7-9pm in Bishop Auditorium.

Final Exam: 40%
The final exam will be on Monday, March 20 from 7-10 pm. (Location TBA).

A note regarding homework: There will be weekly homework assignments to be turned into your TA at the beginning of your Thursday discussion section. No late homeworks will be accepted. To accommodate exceptional situations such as a serious illness, your lowest homework score will be dropped. The homework assignments and solutions will be posted on this website.

Getting Help, Links, and Other Resources

  • You are encouraged to attend the office hours provided by the instructors and teaching assistants. You may attend the office hours of any instructor or teaching assistant.

  • The Stanford University Mathematics Organization (SUMO) offers free drop-in tutoring for students in the 50's sequence. Tutoring is available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-10 PM in room 380-381T.

  • Free Tutoring at the Center for Teaching & Learning.

  • The math department offers a "Homework Night" where students in any math course can get together to work on assignments. It takes place Tuesdays from 7-9 PM in room 380-381U.

  • Math Department Web Page

  • Tips for Success in Undergraduate Math Courses by Jessica Purcell
    Some very good advice for college calculus students. Read this carefully and do as it suggests.
    Note: Pay particular attention to #3 under "Weekly" and #6 and #7 under "Before the exam". Students who think they're following these tips often overlook those parts, and they're the most important ones!

  • Common Errors in Undergraduate Mathematics by Eric Schechter
    Although this document is a bit on the long side, you should read at least some of it carefully -- you'll do better in your math classes because of it. We encourage you to pay particular attention to the sections: bad handwriting, all of the algebra errors, stream-of-consciousness notations, and going over your work.

  • Statement from the Registrar concerning students with documented disabilities:
    "Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). SDRC staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the SDRC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066)."

  • Honor Code and Fundamental Standard

Winter 2017 -- Department of Mathematics, Stanford University