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Course:  Math 20D   (Course Catalog)

Title:  Introduction to Differential Equations

Credit Hours:  4

Prerequisites:  Math 20C (or equivalent)

Catalog Description:  Ordinary differential equations: exact, separable, and linear; constant coefficients, undetermined coefficients, variation of parameters. Series solutions. Systems, Laplace transforms. Computing symbolic and graphical solutions using Matlab.

Textbook:  Elementary Differential Equations (10th Edition), by Jon Rogawski; by William E. Boyce and Richard C. DiPrima; published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2013.

  • You must buy a copy of the book that has the WileyPLUS Online Homework code.
    Otherwise you will have to buy the code separately!
  • If you want ELECTRONIC ACCESS ONLY, you can buy the WileyPLUS code separately. Then you do not need to buy a physical copy of the book. (This is the cheapest option.)

Material Covered:  We shall cover parts of chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 of the text. A list of topics scheduled to be covered each day can be found on the  Course Calendar.

Homework:  Homework is a very important part of the course and in order to fully master the topics it is essential that you work carefully on every assignment and try your best to complete every problem. We will have two different kinds of homework assignments in this class: online homework (which will be graded) and "paper-and-pen" homework (which will not be graded).

  • The "paper-and-pen" homework assignments will be announced on the course  "Homework"  page. These assignments will not be turned in and will be not graded; however, if you seek help from the instructor or TAs, they will do these problems, not the online homework problems.
  • Online homework will be done through WileyPlus, a service hosted by Wiley, the publisher of our textbook.
  • No homework scores will be dropped at the end of the quarter.

Course Readings:  Reading the sections in the textbook that correspond to what we are discussing in class is a very important part of learning the subject. Lecture time is very limited and not every subject can be fully covered in the time allotted for lecture. Consequently, it is in your own interests to read the related chapters in the textbook. The assigned reading will be posted on the course  "Homework"  page with the homework corresponding to that reading.

Lectures:   Attending the lecture is a fundamental part of the course; you are responsible for material presented in the lecture whether or not it is discussed in the textbook. You should expect questions on the exams that will test your understanding of concepts discussed in the lectures.

Labs:   The MATLAB assignments are a required part of the course. Assignments are to be turned in to the dropboxes in the basement of A&PM on the date indicated on the calendar by 5:00PM. The assignments can be found here:

There will be MATLAB tutors available in B432 to help you with your assignments.

MATLAB Quiz:   There will be a MATLAB quiz given at the end of the quarter. The quiz will be held during your scheduled MATLAB time in AP&M B432. If you are unable to make the scheduled time, you will be able to schedule an alternate time online.

Exams:  There will be two midterm exams and a final exam. The midterm exams will be held during class and you will have 50 minutes for each. Check the  Course Calendar  for the exact dates of the midterm and final exams. You will not be permitted to use a calculator or other electronic device during the exams. You may use one 8.5 x 11 inch page of handwritten notes (both sides are okay, but no photocopies are allowed). You may not use any other notes or books. Please bring your student ID to the exams.

Grading:  Your cumulative average will be the best of the following two weighted averages.

  • 10% Homework,   10% MATLAB labs and quiz,   20% Midterm Exam I,   20% Midterm Exam II,   40% Final Exam
  • 10% Homework,   10% MATLAB labs and quiz,   20% Best Midterm Exam,   60% Final Exam
After your weighted average is calculated, letter grades will be assigned based on the standard grading scale:

A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C-
97 93 90 87 83 80 77 73 70

There will be no curve, but we may adjust the scale to be more lenient (depending on the performance of the class). Please note that there are no D grades in the Math 20 sequence.

Please notice that outside factors, including the need for a certain grade for admission/retention in any academic program, scholarship or transfer credit, graduation requirements or personal desire for a specific grade DO NOT appear in the above calculations, and thus are not considered in any way in the determination of your course grade. Effort, improvement, class attendance and participation will all dramatically improve your grade in the course in that they will allow you to do well on homework, exams, and the final exam. They will NOT, however, actively participate in the calculation of your course grade.

Grade Recording Errors:  Keep all of your returned homework and exams. If there is any mistake in the recording of your scores, you will need the original assignment/lab/exam in order for us to make a change.

Regrades:  All graded material will be returned in discussion sections. If you wish to have your exam regraded, you must return it immediately to your TA. Regrade requests will not be considered once the exam leaves the room. If you do not retrieve your exam during discussion section, you must arrange to pick it up from your TA within one week after it was returned in order for any regrade request to be considered.

Make-up Exams:  Make-up midterm exams will not be given. If you miss a midterm exam then your grade will be determined using the second methond described above.

Late Homework:  Online homework may be turned in late; however, there is a late penalty of 50%. (This is applied only on the problems submitted late, and not on the entire assignment.)

Piazza:   Piazza is an online discussion forum that allows you to ask questions using mathematical symbols and expressions. Piazza was designed to enable you to get help quickly and efficiently from classmates, TAs, and instructors. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, you are encouraged to post your questions on Piazza. Find our class page at:

Note: If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email

Electronic Computing Devices:   Graphing calculators and computer programs (or online computing websites such as Wolfram|Alpha) can be very helpful when working through your homework. However, a calculator/computer should be used as an aid in the learning concepts, not just as a means of computation. You should use these devices when working on math problems at home, but always keep in mind that you will not be allowed access to any electronic computing devices during exams or quizzes. Of course, this also means that you will not be asked to solve problems on exams or quizzes that require the aid of an electronic computing device.

  • Help with using TI graphing calculators is available in the Calculus Tutoring Lab.
  • The use of electronic devices will not be permitted during exams or quizzes.

Suggestions:  Below are some suggestions that I hope will help you to succeed in this course:

  • Spend sufficient time on the course. According to the policy of UCSD's Academic Senate, "The value of a course in units … shall be reckoned at the rate of one unit for three hours' work per week per quarter on the part of the student." Since Math 20D is worth 4 credits, you should be willing to spend about 12 hours per week on the course.
  • Keep up with the homework and do not miss a midterm. Missing a homework assignment will hurt your grade because no homework scores will be dropped. This policy is designed to encourage students to complete all the assignments and reward those who do.
  • Get started on the homework assignments early. This will enable you to make the most of your discussion section time by coming prepared with specific questions.
  • When doing textbook problems, try doing odd-numbered problems before even-numbered problems. Most even-numbered end-of-chapter problems are similar to the preceding problem, so if you are stuck on problem 24, try problem 23, and check your answer against the back of the book.

Academic Dishonesty:  Academic dishonesty is considered a serious offense at UCSD.  Students caught cheating will face an administrative sanction which may include suspension or expulsion from the university.  It is in your best interest to maintain your academic integrity. (Click here for more information.)