Initial Publication Date: November 8, 2023

Integrating MATLAB Programming into Applied Math Curriculum

Dong Zhou, Mathematics, California State University-Los Angeles

Over the past six years, I have actively integrated MATLAB into my applied math courses, which encompass a range of subjects including an introductory-level MATLAB programming course, an upper-level numerical analysis course, an upper-level ordinary differential equation course, and three graduate-level applied math courses (numerical linear algebra, numerical methods for PDEs, and Mathematical Modeling).

In our department, we have recently introduced a new introductory-level MATLAB programming course aimed at preparing math majors for advanced numerical analysis courses. Considering that students in this course often have no prior programming experience, I have made a deliberate effort to relate programming concepts to mathematical problems in numerical analysis, such as numerical differentiation/integration and root-finding problems. Throughout the course, I have dedicated one lecture each week to hands-on practice sessions.

In the upper-level numerical analysis course, students are required to implement the learned numerical methods in MATLAB using provided templates or sample code. They are expected to perform numerical simulations and analyze/explain the obtained results.

Although programming is not mandatory for the ordinary differential equation course and the graduate-level courses, I make every effort to utilize MATLAB to demonstrate the methods and concepts involved. I always make the MATLAB codes accessible to my students and offer programming support whenever they express an interest in exploring further with MATLAB.

One challenge that we are facing is that our math majors typically join the program with minimal exposure to programming. There is a significant number of them experience anxiety towards coding. My objective is to acquire effective teaching strategies through this workshop, enabling me to help students overcome their fear of coding, enhance their engagement, and foster active learning environments.

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Essay Dong Zhou, Cal State LA (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 13kB Oct23 23)