Mathematical Computation, Math 9171, Summer 2023

This course will cover the interplay between mathematics and computation. This includes the use of computers to study problems in mathematics, as well as the use of mathematics to better understand computation.

It is aimed at MSc and PhD students in Mathematics, and will assume standard undergraduate mathematical background, such as familiarity with linear algebra, groups and rings. No programming background is required, but an interest in learning about computers is a necessity.


Here are the topics that may be covered. Some may be covered in presentations.

Lecture 1: Here is some information about snakify and other python resources.

Text: There is no textbook for the course. During the second part, I will base some material on: Michael Sipser, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, 3rd ed. But this book is not required.

Homework: Problem sets will be due roughly every 1.5 weeks, and will often involve software. Doing problems and talking about the material are both essential for learning the material in this course, so you are encouraged to discuss the problems with classmates and with me. But you must write up the solutions on your own and must not look at other students' written solutions nor should you attempt to find solutions to problems online or in textbooks. Your solutions should be clear and carefully written and you should give credit to those who helped you and to any references you used. Homework will be graded based on both correctness and clarity. Late problem sets will not be accepted unless arranged in advance for a good reason.

Presentations: In the second half of the semester, each student will give a 50 minute presentation on a topic related to the course. Here is a list of potential topics.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be based upon homework (60%) and presentations (40%).

Technical requirements: Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that can be used to complete the assessments described above.

UWO e-mail:  In accordance with this policy, the centrally administered e-mail account provided to students will be considered the individual's official university e-mail address. It is the responsibility of the account holder to ensure that e-mail received from the University at his/her official university address is attended to in a timely manner.

Scholastic offences:  Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site:

Scholastic offences include: Copying solutions from other students, online sources, textbooks, etc.; showing your work to other students; using ChatGPT or any other source to help with solutions; uploading questions or solutions to a web site; and accessing a web site used for providing solutions (even if you do not use any solutions on the site). The penalty for each academic offence involving homework will be a grade of 0 on the homework set as well as a penalty of negative 5% on the overall course grade. The penalty for an academic offence involving the presentation will be a grade of 0 on the presentation. In some cases, the penalty can include expulsion from the program. All academic offences are added to your student record.

Medical Accommodation:

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness should bring a Student Medical Certificate with them when visiting an off-campus medical facility and use a Record Release Form for visits to Student Health Services.

If homework is missed and sufficient documentation is provided, the homework can be handed in up to three days late, or can be reweighted to the other homework sets, depending on the period covered by the documentation.

Failure to follow these rules may result in a grade of zero.

Support Services: Learning-skills counsellors at the Student Development Centre are ready to help you improve your learning skills. Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Mental Health@Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. Additional student-run support services are offered by the USC. The website for Registrarial Services is

Student Accessibility Services: Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Student Accessibility Services (formerly Services for Students with Disabilities, SSD) at 519-661-2111 x82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.

Western is committed to achieving barrier-free accessibility for all its members, including graduate students. As part of this commitment, Western provides a variety of services devoted to promoting, advocating, and accommodating persons with disabilities in their respective graduate program.

Graduate students with disabilities (for example, chronic illnesses, mental health conditions, mobility impairments) are encouraged to register with Student Accessibility Services, a confidential service designed to support graduate and undergraduate students through their academic program. With the appropriate documentation, the student will work with both SAS and their graduate programs (normally their Graduate Chair and/or Course instructor) to ensure that appropriate academic accommodations to program requirements are arranged. These accommodations include individual counselling, alternative formatted literature, accessible campus transportation, learning strategy instruction, writing exams and assistive technology instruction.

Western is committed to reducing incidents of gender-based and sexual violence and providing compassionate support to anyone who has gone through these traumatic events. If you have experienced sexual or gender-based violence (either recently or in the past), you will find information about support services for survivors, including emergency contacts at this link. To connect with a case manager or set up an appointment, please contact

Additional student-run support services are offered by the USC.

If students need assistance with the course OWL site, they can seek support on the OWL Help page. Alternatively, they can contact the Western Technology Services Helpdesk. The Helpdesk can also be contacted by phone at 519-661-3800 or ext. 83800.

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