Numerical Computing, CSCI-UA 421

Instructor: Michael L. Overton
Spring 2017
Class Meets: Tue, Thu 9:30 - 10:45 a.m., 60 Fifth Ave, Room C12 (before spring break) and Room C04 (after spring break)

  • Information
  • Course Summary

    Introduction to numerical computation: the need for floating-point arithmetic, the IEEE floating-point standard. Importance of numerical computing in a wide variety of scientific applications. Fundamental types of numerical algorithms: direct methods (e.g. for systems of linear equations), iterative methods (e.g. for a nonlinear equation), and discretization methods (e.g. for a differential equation). Conditioning and stability. How can you tell if you can trust your answers? We will use the computer a lot in class and you should become quite proficient with Matlab by the end of the course. If you like math as well as programming, you should enjoy this class!

  • Prerequisites

    Computer Systems Organization (CSCI-UA 201), either Calculus I (MATH-UA 121) or both of Mathematics for Economics I and II (MATH-UA 211 and 212), and Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140), or permission of instructor. Knowledge of Matlab in advance is not expected. The Linear Algebra prerequisite is particularly important; if you are not sure if you have enough background, discuss this with me. If you have already taken the math department's Numerical Analysis course, you may find there is a lot of overlap in this course; if you are not sure if you should take the course anyway, please discuss this with me.

  • Requirements
    1. Attend class
    2. Read the chapters from the two text books that are listed in the "Lectures" summary below, and any other assigned notes
    3. Do the homework (worth about 50% of the final grade)
    4. Write midterm exam and final exam (worth about 20% and 30%, respectively, of the final grade)
  • Lectures
  • Exams
  • Homework It is important that you do the homework yourself (not jointly with another student), but when you get stuck, I encourage you to consult with other students, or me, to get help when necessary. However, when you get help, it's important to acknowledge it in writing in your homework submission. Passing off other people's work as your own is called plagiarism and is not acceptable. For more information, see the CS department's policy on integrity.

    Homework is due at 5:00 pm on the given date. Late homework will be penalized 20%. Homework will not be accepted more than one week late, except in special circumstances.

  • Required Text Books
  • Required Software
  • Class Mailing List

    The class mailing list email address is All registered students should automatically be members of the list. This list will be used for important announcements. You can also send questions or comments to this list yourself (contact me if you have questions about when this is appropriate). If you are not already a member but want to join, go to the web page for the course list.

  • Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help

    If you have questions, send me email, give me a call, or drop by my office. Don't wait until it's too late!