Math 341: Differential Equations (Fall 2009)
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Welcome to Math 341: Differential Equations

Instructor: Ron Buckmire
Class: MWF 2:30-3:25pm Fowler 110
Office: Fowler 313
Office Hours: MTWRF 1:30-2:30pm, MWF 3:30-5pm
ron at
AIM: ProfBuckmire or MadProfessah

 The official version of the syllabus is on this page. A pdf version of the course syllabus is also 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, Third Edition by Paul Blanchard, Robert L. Devaney and Glen R. Hall, Brooks-Cole, 2006.

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 solutions) using qualitative techniques,

  • Prove existence and uniqueness for systems,

  • Analyze the equilibria of a system,

  • Utilize computer technology to appropriately analyze solution behavior,

  • Integrate these techniques to discuss physical systems and the implications of their solution behavior.

The official Math 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!

Class Policies:

Disabilities: Please let me know immediately if you have specific physical or learning disabilities and require accommodations.
These discussions will remain confidential. You should also contact the Coordinator of Academic Services, Diana Linden, linden 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 differential equations, 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. Also, remember common courtesy such as turning all electronics and cell phones off before coming to class—these are a distraction from the course and should not be in use during class time.

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

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