Math 266
Elementary Differential Equations
Fritz Keinert
Fall 2017

Announcements [old announcements]

  • [Dec 15] Final exam solutions and final grades are posted in BlackBoard.
    The results on the final were very poor. I ended up dropping the grade cutoff another 5%, so it is now 10% below where it is supposed to be. Contact me if you want to take a look at your final, or get it back. I expect to be in for a bit on Monday afternoon, after 2pm or so.
    Have a good Christmas break!


Fritz KeinertFritz Keinert
464 Carver
Office hours: MF 11-12, W 12-1, Th 3-4, or by appointment.
Class meetings:
MWF 10:00-10:50am, Beyer 1310 (section 2)
MWF 1:10-2:00pm, Beyer 1310 (section 3)

Yifan Tu (grader)
no office
no telephone
Office hours: by request only
Yifan's office hours are only for questions about grading on quizzes or midterms, not for questions about the course

About Math 266 In General

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.
Prereq: Minimum of C- in MATH 166 or MATH 166H
Solution methods for ordinary differential equations. First order equations, linear equations, constant coefficient equations. Eigenvalue methods for systems of first order linear equations. Introduction to stability and phase plane analysis.

There are various sections of Math 266, taught by different instructors. The only thing they have in common is the material they cover. Everything else is up to the instructor.

Some instructors take attendance, others do not. Some give quizzes, or assign graded homework, or use clickers, others do not. Different instructors will have different percentages attached to exams and homework. Live with it.

The syllabus and course objectives for all Math 266 sections can be found at

The Math Department Class Policies page describes the official policies that all instructors have to follow. It covers rules on make-up exams, cheating, student behavior, etc.

About My Sections of Math 266

I am teaching two sections, section 2 at 10am and section 3 at 1:10pm, in the same room. I plan to keep the two sections completely in parallel. As long as there are seats in the classroom, you can attend the other section, if you want. There is only a single web page for both sections (you are looking at it), but there are two sections in Blackboard, and two sections in WebAssign. You will only be able to see one of them, the one you are officially signed up for.

Our class meets in Beyer Hall, which is a sports facility. You will need to bring a student ID to get in. If you ever forget it, tell the people at the front desk you are going to a class, and ask them for mercy.

Details on homeworks, tests, grading etc. are given below.

Outline of the semester

The following outline is tentative. I will make that more detailed as we go along.

Week and Dates Monday Wednesday Friday
Week 1 (Aug 21-25) 1.1 1.2 1.3
Week 2 (Aug 28-Sep 1) 2.1 2.2 2.2
Quiz 1
Week 3 (Sep 4-8) Labor Day 2.3 2.4
Week 4 (Sep 11-15) 2.4 and 2.5 2.5 Chapter 2 review and catch-up
Quiz 2
Week 5 (Sep 18-22) 2.6 and 3.1 3.1 3.2
Week 6 (Sep 25-29) 3.2 review Midterm 1
Week 7 (Oct 2-6)

midterm make-up

4.1 4.1/4.2
Week 8 (Oct 9-13) 4.3 4.4 4.4
Quiz 3
Week 9 (Oct 16-20) 4.6


Week 10 (Oct 23-27) Ch.4 review 5.1 5.1
Quiz 4
Week 11 (Oct 30-Nov 3) 8.1 8.1 8.2
Week 12 (Nov 6-10) 8.2 review Midterm 2
Week 13 (Nov 13-17) 8.3 8.3 chapter 8 review and catch-up
Thanksgiving Break
Week 14 (Nov 27-Dec 1) 9.1 chapter 8 review 10.1
Quiz 5
Week 15 (Dec 4-8)
Dead week
10.2 review review
Finals Week (Dec 11-15) Final exam
Wed, Dec 13, 4:30-6:30pm
Carver 1


Thomas' CalculusZill/Wright
Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems Cengage/ISU Custom Edition
ISBN: 9781305025172

Students also need to purchase an access code for WebAssign, the online homework system used by Cengage Learning. If you buy the book at the ISU bookstore, an access code will be included. You have a grace period of 2 weeks before you need to buy the code.

Homeworks, Exams, Grades

Homeworks will count for 10% of your grade. Homework assignments will be in WebAssign, an online homework facility. Due dates will be on Sunday evenings every week. It is your responsibility to check every week to see what is due.

In general, all the homework for the material in one week is due at the end of the following week. This is to keep everybody on track. You are encouraged to finish the homework earlier, shortly after we cover the corresponding section in the book. You get 3 tries for each homework. With a bit of effort, everyone in the class should be able to get close to 100% on the homework scores. It is up to you.

I have used other online systems before, but not WebAssign. This will be a learning experience for me, as well. For example, I have no idea if you can repeat individual questions 3 times, or only the homework as a whole.

There will be one written exam every two weeks on a Friday, either a quiz (which will take about half the class period), or a midterm (full class period).

The best 4 out of 5 quizzes will count for 10% of your grade.

The two midterms will each count for 25% of your grade.

The final will count for 30% of your grade. The 266 instructors have requested a group final exam (date and time to be determined).

BlackBoard and WebAssign

BlackBoard is a course management system used at Iowa State. You probably have some other courses in BlackBoard as well. BlackBoard will be replaced by something called Canvas by spring. I had the option of starting directly with Canvas this semester, but decided to let someone else find the bugs first.

There are two pages for this course in BlackBoard, one for each section. You will only see the one that corresponds to your section. I will use BlackBoard to post things I want to hide from Google, such as exam solutions and scores. I will use a regular web site (the one you are looking at) for everything else.

WebAssign is an online course management tool from Cengage Publishing. We will be using it for homework assignments. I have not used it before, but if it is like similar systems I know, there will also be an online textbook in there, various tutorials, self-tests, and so on.

The way it is supposed to work is that there is a link to WebAssign from inside Blackboard. This will make sure that you end up in the correct section of WebAssign, and also eliminate the need to log in separately. I haven't managed to set this up correctly yet, and neither has my support person from Cengage Publishing. We should have this running within a few days.

You will need an access code to enter WebAssign the first time. That comes with a new textbook bought at the ISU bookstore, or you can buy it separately. You have a grace period of 2 weeks before you absoutely need the code. I assume that if you are repeating this class and have used an access code before, you don't need a new one.

WebAssign support hotline: (800) 354-9706.

There is a gradebook in WebAssign, and a gradebook in BlackBoard, and they are supposed to be talking each other. I will believe it when I see it. Even if they are synchronized, they are both a major hassle to use, and will only contain scores from the online homework, not from quizzes and exams. I will keep an Excel spreadsheet for the scores, and post that in Blackboard periodically.

Students With Disabilities

If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, you should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) from the Disability Resources office (Student Services Building, Room 1076, 294-6624 or TDD 294-6335, or Please contact your instructor early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met.

More information about disability resources in the Mathematics Department can be found at

Last Updated: December 15, 2017