Mathematics 210 - Spring 2005

  • Section 201
  • Room: Mathematics 105
  • Class times: MWF 2:00
  • Computer laboratory hour: Wednesdays 12:00. Being able to attend the labs at this time is a necessary requirement for taking this course.
To see sample spreadsheets for the assignments, enter "210" as your group when you log in to the spreadsheet. Then you can see spreadsheets "" and load them.

The second mid-term examination will be held in the lab rooms in MSRC at 12:00 Wednesday, March 16.

One principal goal of this course is to understand the mathematics of limits and calculus by exploring examples. Another is to learn the limitations of computers as well as their potential.

We shall use the spreadsheet also used in Mathematics 102/103. You can access it at the MathSheet home page.


There will be roughly one assignment per week. They will count in all 30% of the course. The mid-term and final examinations will both take place in the computer lab. There might be short quizzes from time to time. Quizzes and exams will count proportionally to their duration.

In order not to get a grade of 0 on a quiz or examination, a student must present a valid medical excuse within 2 days of the missed exam, or arrange the absence, and have it approved by the insructor, at least 2 days in advance.

Outline (tentative)

  • Introduction to the spreadsheet
  • Base two expansions
  • Some arithmetic algorithms
  • Machine numbers and their limitations
  • Decimal expansions
  • Geometric series
  • Series for ex
  • The harmonic series
  • Archimedes and the calculation of
  • Other series
  • Rectangle rule for integration
  • Trapezoid rule
  • Simpson's rule
  • The error function
  • Interpolation
  • Asymptotic series
  • Discrete probability distributions
  • Continuous probability distributions
  • Rounding errors

Homework assignments

  • The first assignment is due in class Monday, January 10 - redo the diagnostic quiz. These topics will occur later in the course.
  • The first lab is due Monday, January 17. In order to hand in the homework, you need to save your spreadsheet, and in order to do that you need to first open the File/Log in window. Your login id is told to you in class, or you can get it from me by email. It is the same you use to log onto the Department system in the lab rooms. Your password for the spreadsheet is your student number (all 8 digits, not prefaced by M). Your group is 210, but it is not necessary to enter it unless you want to see sample spreadsheets meant for the whole class to look at (and there are none posted yet).
  • The second lab is due before class Monday, January 24.
  • The third lab is due before class Monday, January 31.
  • The fourth lab is due before class Monday, February 7.
  • The fifth lab is due before class Monday, February 28. Topic: numerical integration
  • The sixth lab is due before class Monday, March 7. Topic: Richardson's extrapolation
  • The seventh lab is due before class Monday, March 14. Topic: probability distributions
  • The second midterm is due as an assignment by Wednesday, March 23, before and in class. It will count 1/3 as much as the exam itself.
  • The eighth lab is due before class Wednesday, March 30. Topic: normal probability distribution
  • The ninth lab is due before class Monday, April 5. Topic: more about the normal probability distribution

Course notes


There will be no required text, but as the term progresses class notes will appear here. A few references are listed here. They are out of print, but available in the Mathematics Library.

  • Peter Henrici, Essentials of numerical analysis, John Wiley. This is my own principal source. There will eventually a copy on two-hour reserve in the Mathematics Library.
  • J. B. Rosser & Carl de Boor, Pocket calculator supplement for calculus, Addison-Wesley. Not very dense in good ideas, but occasionally useful.

The diagnostic quiz