Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Purposes of This Course

  1. To ensure that you are aware of the wide range of easily accessible numerical methods that will be useful in your thesis research, at practice school, and in your career, as well as to make you confident to look up additional methods when you need them.
  2. To help you become familiar with MATLAB and other convenient numerical software, and with simple programming / debugging techniques.
  3. To give you some understanding of how the numerical algorithms work, to help you understand why algorithms sometimes produce unexpected results.


Final Exam 40%
Midterm Quizzes 30%
Homework 30%

Homework Policy

Doing the homework is the best way to learn and you are encouraged to discuss the homework with the TAs, the professors, and other students in the class. It is fine to ask someone else to look over your shoulder to help you debug your programs, or so that person can see how you accomplished some task. However, You May Not:

  1. Post or provide any other student with an electronic or hard copy of any portion of your homework solution prior to the due date, or
  2. accept such a copy from another student, or
  3. accept, read, or use any homeworks from previous years (quizzes are fine).

It is acceptable to incorporate functions from other sources (e.g., from the previous week’s posted homework solution); as long as the author / source of a function being recycled is properly credited in the homework. Violations of these policies will be considered cheating and can have very severe consequences.

When to Stop

Sometimes you may find a homework problem is consuming an inordinate amount of time even after you have asked for help. (This is an occupational hazard for all software developers.) If this happens, just turn in what you have done with a note indicating that you know your solution is incomplete. This course nominally requires 9 hours per week on average—perhaps a little more early on if you are not proficient with MATLAB.


Install this program as soon as possible (if not already installed). There will be MATLAB tutorial help sessions for any students who have not used this program before or who need a refresher. You are also encouraged to go through any of the numerous tutorials provided by Mathworks.

Reading Materials

Required textbook: Beers, Kenneth J. Numerical Methods for Chemical Engineering: Applications in MATLAB. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521859714. [Preview with Google Books]

You are expected to read the course materials before class, and to read the materials again before doing homework. Some reference books that may be helpful:

Press, W. H. Numerical Recipes 3rd Edition: The Art of Scientific Computing. Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780521880688. [Preview with Google Books] (This comes in various editions) — This book provides short clear synopses of methods for many types of problems.

Rektenwald, G. Numerical Methods with MATLAB: Implementations and Applications. Pearson, 2000. ISBN: 9780201308600 — This book provides only simple numerical methods, but is good introdution to using MATLAB.

Heath, Michael T. Scientific Computing. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Incorporation, 2002. ISBN: 9780072399103 — This book has more concise coverage of many topics.

There are also a very large number of textbooks on numerical methods for engineers, many of which have helpful examples implemented in MATLAB.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2015
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Programming Assignments
Lecture Videos
Exams with Solutions