Physics 3340/6361 Fall 2018

Required textbook

"Numerical Mathematics and Computing" by E. Ward Cheney and David R. Kincaid

Recommended edition:
7th edition (2013)
ISBN: 1-133-10371-5
Acceptable edition:
6th edition (2008)
ISBN: 495-11475-8
Acceptable edition:
5th edition (2004)
ISBN: 0534389937

Note: This text should not be confused with another text "Numerical Analysis: Mathematics of Scientific Computing" also by Kincaid and Cheney

Syllabus (also available on Canvas)

Lecture slides

The lecture slides in PDF format for each major class topic will be posted on Canvas, (hopefully) before the first class meeting that begins that topic. You may download and print to take notes on, or use for review after class and in open-book exams.

Office Hours

Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30 - 3:00pm, or at other times by appointment, Room 01A Fondren Science Building. I can also generally be found in the KNW2300 lab, Room 202 Junkins, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 - 4:50pm


This is a hands-on class where you learn mostly by working on the homework exercises. Homework assignments will usually be posted on Canvas by Monday evenings and will usually be due Monday nights by upload into Canvas. In fairness to the students who have submitted their assignments on time, late submissions are eligible for only 50% credit. Then once the solutions have been posted on Canvas of course no credit can be awarded for an assignment.

Programming Tools

The Linux lab computer systems or your office computer in the Physics department, with its gcc Gnu C compiler, can be used to develop numerical analysis programs for assignments in this course. Your personal laptop or home computer are also acceptable programming platforms, as long as it has the gcc Gnu C compiler and the gnuplot plotting tool (see below). Generally MacOS laptops have gcc, and gnuplot can be optionally installed. If you have a laptop or home computer running Microsoft Windows you may install the lightweight MinGW and MSys packages to develop your C programs. The MinGW project home page provides more details and documentation on the MinGW package.

Plotting Tool

We'll be making extensive use of the gnuplot plotting program in this course. Refer to this manual for documentation. This tool is a standard part of Linux systems, and is available on the Physics department systems.

For those working on class assignments at home, gnuplot is also available for the Windows platform, and you may download either 32-bit Windows binary installer or 64-bit Windows binary installer and install it as well.

Some recent versions of gnuplot have arranged the default colors for the plotted curves to be some pastel, difficult to distinguish hues. To get more reasonable plot colors by default with the recent versions of gnuplot, place the lines:

set linetype 1 linecolor rgb 'red'
set linetype 2 linecolor rgb 'green'
set linetype 3 linecolor rgb 'blue'
set linetype 4 linecolor rgb 'yellow'
set linetype 5 linecolor rgb 'cyan'
set linetype 6 linecolor rgb 'violet'

in a file named '.gnuplot' in your Linux home directory.

Program editing

You may use any plain text editor you feel comfortable with when working on Linux systems, such as gedit, xemacs, nedit, vim, or others, to compose your numerical programs. When working on Windows, the native text editor Notepad offers very limited capability. Two good alternatives for an enhanced editor specifically designed for program source code are the Programmers File Editor or ViM. You may download this executable and install PFE simply by unzipping the contents of this archive into a convenient directory, such as 'C:\Program Files\PFE', and creating a shortcut in the Start Menu for the PFE32.EXE executable file. Or downloading and running this executable will give you a Windows installer for the ViM editor.

Class Resources

Other online Tutorials and resources

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