Winter 2016: Math 215/255: Differential Equations Common Page
Instructors: Dr. Daniel Coombs, Dr. Jacob Norton and Dr. Mona Rahmani.
Math department tutoring centre is located in LSK 301/302.

Links to section web pages:
  • Section 201 (Coombs)
  • Section 202 (Notes from Feb 10 and 12)

  • Text: Our main reference will be the online textbook Diffy Qs by Lebl. You can download the book (for free) or order a copy (for cheap) to be sent to you from this page:
  • Clickers will be used in some sections of this course. Please confirm with your section instructor about whether you need to get a clicker (available from the bookstore).
  • Matlab/Octave. You will need one of these tools for some of the homework in this class. See below for instructions about how to get one of these programs for your personal computer. You can also/alternatively use the Math department computer labs.
  • Additional free online notes are available at the following sites: (for the last link you will need to be accessing from UBC, either directly or via VPN:
    You can also consult physical textbooks. Some favourites are Boyce and DiPrima (any recent edition) and Edwards and Penney. Boyce and DiPrima has often been used at UBC.

    Important Dates:

  • First class: January 4th, 2016.
  • Midterm test: February 29th
  • Final exam: TBA

    Important: Survey (complete by Jan 21st)

    Please complete the survey on attitudes and perceptions of mathematics by Jan 21st: [SURVEY]


  • The breakdown of marks between course elements will be as follows: Final exam 50%, Homework 20%, Webwork 10%, Midterm (29th February) 10%, in-class quizzes and/or clickers 10%.
  • Missing a midterm or quiz normally results in a mark of 0. Exceptions may be granted in two cases: prior consent of the instructor or a medical emergency. In the latter case, the instructor must be notified within 48 hours of the missed test, and presented with a doctor's note immediately upon the student's return to UBC. No make-up midterms will be given.
  • Term marks may be scaled up or down on a classwide basis, depending on performance on the final exam. This is to ensure fairness across both sections of the course.
  • You have to submit only your own Webwork, own homework, own clicking, etc. Although you are welcome to study together and discuss the homework with other students, the work you submit (electronically, on paper, or via clickers) must be your own. UBC policies on cheating and plagiarism are extremely strict. If in doubt, enquire before submitting.


  • Some homework questions will require use of Matlab/Octave to solve problems numerically. See below for instructions on obtaining Matlab/Octave.
  • Homework one due in class on Friday January 22nd.
  • Solutions to Homework one.
  • Homework two due in class on Friday January 29th. Download needed additional function here:dirfield.m Note this additional function may not work with Octave. Here are two alternative versions that should work OK: dirfield_oct1.m dirfield_oct2.m (Check the comments in the second file if you go with this one). Thanks to both students for sending these updates!
  • Solutions to Homework two.
  • Homework three due in class on Friday February 12th either in class on Feb 12th or delivered by Feb 15th (3pm for math 215 sections to math annex 1109).
  • Instructions for plotting vector fields (.m file) and Instructions for plotting vector fields (.pdf file).

    Midterms and Quizzes

  • List of topics for Quiz 1 (to be held in class on Feb 1st).
  • Quiz 1

    Final Exam

  • Final exam related material will be posted here.
  • Previous math 215 exams. Note that different topics receive more or less emphasis in different years.
  • UBC Math Exam Resources wiki.
  • UBC Math club.Will sell you some previous exams with solutions. Carefully note their opening hours.

    Computer homework information

    Getting the needed software

  • Computer homework information will be given in class as needed.
  • Here are three options for obtaining software needed for the homework.
  • (1) A basic student "unbundled" version of Matlab can be purchased and downloaded from Mathworks, Inc: for $49. You do not need any additional toolboxes for this class.
  • (2) You can install Octave. Octave is a free program that is quite similar to Matlab so that most programs are easily portable from one to the other. Installation of Octave on Windows and Linux is fairly simple (in fact if you have a recent Linux distribution, Octave might already be installed). However on Mac computers, installation can be a bit trickier. We will not help you install software on your personal computer.
  • (3) You can use the Mathematics undergrad computer labs, located in LSK 121 and LSK 310. The labs are open from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday. LSK 310 is also where the TA help will be available (either on a lab computer, or take your laptop). To use the lab computers you will need to login using a user account. Follow the instructions that will be sent to you by email (and/or ask the TAs during lab hours for assistance).

    Lab TA hours:

    TAs will be available in LSK 310 at the following times (subject to change through the semester, please check back for updated hours):
  • Tuesday: 9am-11am, 4pm-6pm.
  • Wednesday: 11am-1pm, 4pm-6pm.
  • Thursday: 12pm-2pm, 3pm-4pm, 5pm-6pm.

    Matlab and Octave resources

  • UBC Math Matlab/Octave resources page.
  • Matlab is used by lots of people worldwide. The Mathworks help site is a good place to look for help, but often you will also find an answer by directly using Google or another search engine.
  • Useful notes on Matlab for novices linked Jan 11 [PDF].
    Daniel Coombs / Department of Mathematics / University of British Columbia