Math 340: Differential Equations (Fall 2015)
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Welcome to Math 340: Differential Equations

Instructor: Ron Buckmire
Class Time: MWF 3:00-3:55pm

Class Room: Fowler 307
Office: Fowler 313
Office Hours: MWF 4:00-5pm and T 10:30-noon and R 4:30-5:30pm
ron at
Twitter: @MadProfessah

The official version of the syllabus is on this page. A pdf version of the course syllabus is also available.

There is a sitemap for this course website available.

Make sure to check the course news/announcements page often.

Use the navigation bar at the top of each page to access the course materials on this site.

Textbook: Differential Equations, Fourth Edition by Paul Blanchard, Robert L. Devaney and Glen R. Hall, Brooks-Cole, 2012.

Class Goals: By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • Solve differential equations and systems of differential equations using direct techniques,

  • Analyze solution behavior (without knowing or computing solutions) using qualitative techniques,

  • Discuss the implications of parameter variation on solutions (i.e. bifurcation)

  • Prove existence and uniqueness of solutions of some differential equations,

  • Analyze the equilibria of a system,

  • Utilize computer technology to appropriately analyze solution behavior,

  • Integrate these techniques to analyze physical systems described by differential equations (mathematical models)

The official Occidental College Mathematics Department Goals and Outcomes for the course are:

  • Outcome 3.2: Students will give a clear and well-organized presentation on a mathematical topic.
  • Outcome 5.1: Students are able to define and deploy important terms in multiple areas of advanced mathematics.

  • Outcome 5.2: Students are able to provide examples that illustrate important concepts found in multiple areas of advanced mathematics

Class Description (and Expectations): This is a first course in the study of differential equations. I will expect familiarity and expertise with the concepts found in Differential and Integral Calculus as well as some recall of material from Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra. Differential Equations is a huge, varied and fascinating field of study. I will expect students to come to class prepared so that we can use class time as efficiently as possible to facilitate learning the course material. We will not be able to ``cover" the entire subject, but I should be able to give you a significant introduction to some of the most important topics in the field. Since I am an applied mathematician and this is the first time I am teaching the course in quite awhile, the style of the course will be skewed towards practical application of the material, and not very theoretical in nature. However, this is a 300-level math class and I will expect a corresponding level of mathematical rigor and student responsibility. This class entails a lot of work, if you are not prepared for this, you should consider an alternative course.

Class Format: As with most professors, I will expect a lot of participation in class and will facilitate this through the use of daily class formats (worksheets), group work, in-class computer exercises, abbreviated lectures and online communication. Mathematics is best learned by doing mathematics, so be prepared to work!

Course Policies:

  •  Make-up tests will not be given except for compelling reasons which have been communicated to me well-in advance (i.e. at least 7 days) of the test date.
  •  If you are late to a test, you will only be allowed the time remaining in which to complete your test.
  • Late quizzes (or homework) will not be accepted under any condition since the solutions are made available on the same day that they are collected to be graded.
  • This is not an exhaustive list of course policies!

College Policies:

Disabilities: Students with documented disabilities who are registered with Disability Services are required to present their accommodation letter to the instructor at the beginning of each semester or as soon as possible thereafter. Any student who experiences significant physical or mental impairments may contact Disability Services at (323) 259-2969 to learn about available services and support. More information is available at

Honest Academic Work: No form of academic dishonesty will be tolerated in this course. Any instances of cheating and/or plagiarism will be reported on the first offense.
Oxy has policies regarding intellectual honesty in the student handbook or see

Classroom Conduct: The goals of this course can only be accomplished in a setting of respect. Although differential equations rarely lends itself to too much controversy, we must still provide a safe environment that is conducive to learning. All are welcomed and encouraged to actively participate in the learning of all the materials of this course, regardless of gender, race, nationality, native language, sexuality, political ideology, and especially personal mathematical history. Any student who feels she or he is experiencing a hostile environment should speak to me immediately.

Electronic Devices: Please remember that common courtesy dictates turning off all electronic devices and cell phones (or place in silent mode) before coming to class; these devices can be a distraction for other students (and me!) in the class and thus should not be in use during class time unless I give you explicit permission to do so.

Grades: The final course grade will be composed of the following:

  • Homework and Participation 20%
  • Two (2) Tests 20% (10 % each)
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Final Exam 20%
  • Project 20%