ChEn 2450 – Numerical Methods



Administrative Information

  • Meeting times: MW 9:40-10:30 in WEB 1250
  • Discussion sections will be held in the ICC (MEB 2285).  Please attend the section you are registered for.  You may attend other sessions in addition if you require additional help.  You should have access to the ICC using your UCard.  If you have trouble accessing this room, please .
  • Text Book: Numerical Computing with MATLAB by Cleve Moler.  We will cover selected portions of this text book, with most of the material covered in the class lecture notes.
    • Another recommended, but not required reference: Numerical Methods for Engineers and Scientists, Joe D. Hoffman, ISBN 0-8247-0443-6
  • Instructor: , Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering
    • Office location: INSCC 360
    • Office hours: I do not hold formal office hours. I have an open-door policy and I am willing to meet with you any time that I am in my office. To ensure that I am available to see you, feel free to set an appointment.
    • Phone: (801) 585-1246.  Note that is the best way to contact me.
  • Teaching Assistants:
  • College of engineering guidelines discusses withdrawal policies, ADA policies, etc.

Getting Help:

  • Attend the discussion section you are registered for.  You may attend other ones in addition for extra help.
  • Prof. Sutherland has a wiki page with many tips on both using Matlab as well as numerical methods.
  • After you have looked through the class notes and the wiki page, feel free to contact Prof. Sutherland or one of the TAs directly. Or you can email  for help as well.

Course objectives & topics:

By the end of this class, students will able to solve problems involving:

  • Solution of linear systems of equations
  • Interpolation
  • Regression
  • Solution of nonlinear equations
  • Numerical differentiation
  • Numerical integration
  • Solution of ordinary differential equations (ODEs).
  • Solution of elliptic and parabolic partial differential equations.

The following are listed as prerequisites and corequisites for ChEn 2450:

  • Prerequisites:  ChEn 1703,  Algebra & calculus
  • Corequisite: Math 2250 – Ordinary differential equations & Linear Algebra


This class will use MATLAB extensively. A prerequisite for this course is CHEN 1703, which provides an introduction to MATLAB.  Students without MATLAB background should be prepared to learn MATLAB quickly in the first week of class.  Among the key proficiencies you need in MATLAB: arrays, solving linear systems, plottingloops (for/while), conditionals (if/then/else), functions.

Accessing Matlab

There are several options for accessing MATLAB.

  • The most convenient for ChEn students is probably via the ICC (MEB 2285), which is a Chemical Engineering computer lab.  To set up an account, follow this link.  You can also gain remote access to this lab from any computer with a (fast) network connection.
  • You can purchase the student version of MATLAB.  There are also several free MATLAB alternatives, including Octave and FreeMAT.  These don’t have all of the features of MATLAB, but are probably sufficient for what you will need in this class.
  • The CADE lab in WEB has Windows (WEB 210), Mac (WEB 210) and Linux (WEB 246) computers. Walk in and find one of the system administrators to get set up with an account.  Also, you can access the Linux machines remotely if you have a fast internet connection.  Only try this if you are familiar with X-windows and SSH.
  • Library computers running Windows.  (I don?t think that MATLAB is installed on the Mac computers in the library)

Teaching Philosophy

I assume that you are here to learn. I will do my best to help you achieve that goal. However, learning is primarily your responsibility. You should come to class prepared to participate in the lecture and ask questions. I am happy to meet with you outside of class to discuss questions you have. I also try to respond to email in a timely manner when possible.


In addition to the course website, I will use email regularly to send information to the class. You must have a valid University of Utah email address for all correspondence in this class, as outlined by the university?s policy.  If you prefer to use other email addresses, please set up a forward from your umail account (see here for instructions).


  • Homework is designed to provide you with the opportunity to solidify concepts discussed in class. Homework assignments will typically require you to assimilate several concepts to solve a problem. I do this purposely, since I believe that this will help you to learn problem solving skills that will be crucial to your success as an engineer.
  • Homework assignments will be posted on the homework page of the course web site. Unless otherwise stated, homework is due by the beginning of class on the date indicated on the schedule.
  • Solutions will be posted on the class web site shortly after the due date.
  • I strongly encourage you to work together on homework assignments. Discuss the problem and your solution approaches with each other. However, you must submit your own work. Copying others? work is plagiarism and will not be tolerated. Consequences of cheating and plagiarism include failure in this class and possible dismissal from the university.
  • Homework assignments must be submitted electronically via the course web page. You should write a report describing the problem, your solution, and presenting your results. Submit your report in either PDF or MS Word format. Any Excel or Matlab files that you used to solve the homework problem should also be submitted with your solution. For more information, see the Homework page.

Grading policy (tentative)

  • 10% quizzes.  Unannounced quizzes will be given in class periodically throughout the semester.
  • 18% each midterm exam (two midterms)
  • 30% Homework
  • 24% Final exam

Grades will be assigned on the following scale, normalized to the highest student in the class (who, by definition, is 100%)

  • 92< A ? 100,   89 < A- ? 92
  • 86 < B+ ? 89,   81 < B ? 86,   78 < B- ? 81
  • 75 < C+ ? 78,   70 < C ? 75,   67 < C- ? 70
  • 64 < D+ ? 67,   59 < D ? 64,   56 < D- ? 59
  • E ? 56

I reserve the right to adjust this scale downward if I deem it necessary.

Student Resources

The University of Utah values the safety of all campus community members. To report suspicious activity or to request a courtesy escort, call campus police at 801-585-COPS (801-585-2677). You will receive important emergency alerts and safety messages regarding campus safety via text message. For more information regarding safety and to view available training resources, including helpful videos, visit 

  • – a collection of student resources available on campus.
  • The University counseling center 801-581-6826, available for appointments to discuss issues you may be having.
  • SafeUT – smartphone application that provides access to resources.
  • University Neuropsychiatric institute (UNI) hotline: 801-587-3000
  • Crisis intervention
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Addressing Sexual Misconduct

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender (which includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression) is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, color, religion, age, status as a person with a disability, veteran?s status or genetic information. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 135 Park Building, 801-581-8365, or the Office of the Dean of Students, 270 Union Building, 801-581-7066. For support and confidential consultation, contact the Center for Student Wellness, 426 SSB, 801-581-7776. To report to the police, contact the Department of Public Safety, 801-585-2677(COPS).