I am a college professor who teaches mathematics for a living. I earned my Ph. D. in 1991 and have established a modest publication record (journals include *Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society*, *American Mathematical Monthly*, *Journal of Knot Theory and its Ramifications*, *College Mathematics Journal*). But mostly I teach three classes per semester, and most of the classes are from the calculus/differential equations sequence.

Other classes taught include numerical methods, probability and statistics, complex variables, applied mathematics, abstract algebra, operations research and, of course, the dreaded college algebra and “business” calculus.

This blog is to record my thoughts, experiences, and experiments. I’ll talk about pedagogy, content and mathematical ideas and observations. What I won’t talk about is boilerplate (e. g., you won’t see the phrases “student centered” versus “teacher centered” here).

If you teach college mathematics for a living (especially calculus) and would like posting privileges, contact me.

Note: my identity is hardly a state secret, but I’d like to keep the focus on the material and not on my personality, etc.

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What is the content and purpose of the course “numerical methods”?

Comment by Robert Hendrickson — August 8, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

It depends on the institution offering the course; topics vary widely. Roughly speaking it is usually something like this: we have some sort of problem that is difficult (or impossible) to solve exactly (say: solve cos(x) = x ) So one studies methods to find an approximate solution; we are interested in questions such as:

1. How many steps are involved to achieve a required accuracy?

2. How do we know when such accuracy is achieved?

3. How do we even know if we are going to get close to a solution.

There are also things such as: numerical integration, numerical differentiation, matrix algebra, solutions to differential equations, etc.

Comment by blueollie — August 8, 2011 @ 6:47 pm