MS 350 - Mathematical Modeling

Professor: Erich Friedman

About the course:

We will meet every MWF at 1:30 in Elizabeth 206. There is no text for this course. There is no fixed syllabus, but topics of the course may include the basics of modeling, optimization models, statistical models, dynamic models, spatial models, and stochastic models. You will be expected to contribute to the class discussion, do occasional projects, including a final project and class presentation. Occasionally, we will branch off and talk about models that do not fit into one of the many categories above. Hopefully this will convince you that modeling is creative and non-linear.

About me:

My e-mail address is My web page can be found at My office is Elizabeth 214-2. My office hours this semester are:

This means that I am always in my office during these times, and you can drop by without an appointment. If you cannot make my regularly scheduled hours, let me know and we can set up another time to talk. Please come by if you need help, or if you just want to chat. You will soon see that my lecture style is informal. I will be calling you by your first name (or a nickname if you prefer), so please call me Erich.

About you:

You should have some computer programming experience. You should have at least MS 201 and MS 202, and the more math you have had the better, as this class has some overlap with MS 203, MS 316, MS 371, and MS 372. Please be respectful of both me and your classmates. This means coming to class on time and not socializing in class. Cheating will not be tolerated.

About your grade:

Class Participation is an important part of this course. We will be discussing models and ways to approach them or improve them, and more suggestions and criticisms will make better models. Note that it is hard to participate if you do not come to class. Participation will be 1/6 of your grade.

Homework will be rarely be assigned, but when it is, it will be collected and graded the next class period. Failure to do this homework will result in severe injury.

Small Projects will be assigned every week or two, due a week or two later. These projects will allow you to practice modeling techniques we are discussing in class. You should hand in a written report (usually a couple pages) by the due date. Please explain your work well - getting the "right" answer is not enough. You may work on these projects in groups subject to the following rule: you may not work with the same person twice. A group only needs to hand in one copy of the project. Together, the projects will comprise 1/2 of your grade.

The Final Project in the course will be longer, and will be done individually. I will suggest a list of possible projects, but I am willing to listen to other ideas you may have. During the last three weeks of class, you will give an oral presentation of your project. The presentation, including questions from the audience, should last 20 minutes. Computer demonstrations and results are encouraged. The entire department will be invited to attend. You are encouraged to give your final project presentation as part of the Math/CS Seminar. You should also hand in a written report. The oral presentation and the written report are each worth 1/6 of your final grade.