Math 53: Autumn 2014

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Course Description

This is a first course in ordinary differential equations. The material includes separation of variables; integrating factors and exact differential equations; systems of linear differential equations; eigenvalues and eigenvectors; the method of variation of parameters; the Laplace transform; systems of nonlinear differential equations, and conservation laws.

This course will focus on teaching "cookbook-style" methods for solving concrete problems. Students interested in a proof-oriented course should look into Math 53H.

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)

Enrollment in Lectures and Sections

Math 53 students attend lectures on MWF and discussion sections on TTh. After you have enrolled in a MWF lecture on Axess, you need to use CourseWork to enroll in a TTh section as explained here.


The text for the course is Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems: 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.

Grading Policies and Exam Dates

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

Homework: 15%
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: 25% each
Dates and times forthcoming.

Final Exam: 35%
Date and time forthcoming.

A note regarding homework: There will be weekly homework assignments to be turned into your TA at the beginning of your discussion section. No late homeworks will be accepted. To accommodate exceptional situations such as a serious illness, your lowest homework score will be dropped. For homework assignments and other general information, see the Homework page.

A note regarding exams: All exams for Math 53 are closed-book, closed-notes, with no calculators or other electronic aids permitted. If you have a course-related or competition-related schedule conflict with a midterm exam, you must contact your instructor at least a week in advance of the exam to make arrangements for an alternate (early) sitting. No other schedule conflicts are accommodated. For more information on exams, including previous exams, see the Exams page.

Getting Help, Links, and Other Resources

Autumn 2014 -- Department of Mathematics, Stanford University