For information on CS 122 - Computation Lab II - Winter 2007 please click here!

CS 121 - Computation Lab I - Fall 2006

Frequently Asked Questions (6) | Announcements (8)Schedule of Events  | Grading Policy  | Course Resources

Course Description

Introduces mathematical computation and computer programming through the use of a symbolic computation system.  Programming techniques and algorithmic problem solving are introduced in the context of the differential calculus.  Illustrates the power and limitations of the computer in solving mathematical problems.

Course Goals

To provide students with the skills to effectively use a symbolic computation system to solve mathematical problems and to introduce students to programming and algorithmic thinking.  To reinforce concepts from mathematics by presenting them in an algorithmic and computational manner and to learn concepts from computer science in the context of mathematical computation.

Course Objectives Audience

This is a required freshman level course for all engineering and computer science students.  


Should be taken concurrently with or following Calculus I (MATH 121)

Sections Instructor Position Email Office Hours (Off Weeks*)
61–64, 75-82 Dr. Frederick W. Chapman Course Coordinator  
65, 68, 73, 83, 85 Mr. Pete Bogunovich Course Instructor Wed. 1–3 PM in UC 147
71, 72, 74 Mr. John Novatnack Course Instructor Thu. 1–2 PM in UC 147
69 Dr. Jeremy Johnson Course Founder  

*Office hours will be held only during the weeks when the lab does not meet!  (See the schedule of events.)  Office hours are held in the Cyber Learning Center, located in University Crossings (UC) Room 147.

Meeting Times

Each section of the lab meets for an hour and fifty minutes once every other week in University Crossings (UC) Rooms 145 & 146.  The meeting times and locations are listed below by section number, along with the initials of your lab instructor.
Section Number
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Section Number
UC 145 UC 145 UC 145 UC 145 UC 145  UC 146 
    Sec 65
  Sec 74
      8 AM – 10 AM
  9 AM – 11 AM Sec 61
      Sec 79
Sec 83
        Sec 75
    10 AM – 12 PM
11 AM –   1 PM Sec 62
  Sec 71
  Sec 80
        Sec 76
    12 PM –   2 PM
  1 PM –   3 PM Sec 63
  Sec 72
  Sec 81
Sec 85
    Sec 68
  Sec 77
      2 PM –   4 PM
  3 PM –   5 PM Sec 64
  Sec 73
  Sec 82
    Sec 69
  Sec 78
      4 PM –   6 PM

Course Communications

To access the official web page for this course, please use the web address

Later in the term, we will use WebCT to facilitate course communications in several ways:
  1. Individual student grades will be posted privately on WebCT.
  2. Course announcements will be posted publicly on WebCT.
  3. There will be a public discussion group on WebCT for posting questions and answers related to Maple, the labs, and the course in general.
We will also use Maple TA to administer online quizzes on the course material during the term.


All students should have access to a copy of Maple 10 (available through Drexel's site license).  Instead of a text book, this course will rely on Maple documentation and course notes/labs provided as Maple worksheets (see course web page).

Course Motivation

Maple has a wealth of mathematical knowledge built into it and can be used throughout your college studies and professional career whenever mathematical computations are required.  Maple "knows" all or almost all of the mathematics you will see in your mathematics, science, and engineering courses at Drexel.  In particular, Maple has commands to perform all of the computations you will learn about in your calculus courses (e.g. limits, differentiation, integration) and provides functionality, such as plotting, numeric and symbolic computation, and scripting that will allow you to explore these concepts. 

The purpose of this course is to help you  become familiar with the capabilities—and limitations—of Maple and to teach you how to effectively use Maple to explore mathematics, science, and engineering concepts.  Maple is a very powerful tool—it is the result of more than two decades of development by numerous computer scientists and mathematicians.  Consequently, Maple can be complicated to use; however, we hope that after this course, you will become sophisticated enough in its use that you can overcome these difficulties and can benefit from its considerable power.

In order to become an Maple effective user, you must learn some concepts from computer science; e.g., evaluation (names vs. values), programming, data structures, algorithms, graphics, user interface design, theory of computation (what can and cannot be computed).  This computer science course will introduce you to these concepts in the context of computations which arise in your calculus course.  This course will not only help you better understand the material in your calculus course—it will also provide you with powerful computational tools so that you can apply your understanding of calculus effectively throughout your careers as practicing engineers.

Course Topics

  1. The use of maple (interface, symbolic computation, numeric computation, graphics, and an interactive programming environment). 
  2. Experimental mathematics (properties of sequences, equations, and functions)
  3. Algorithmic mathematics (differentiation and equation solving)
  4. Elementary programming constructs (variables, loops, conditionals,  functions)
  5. Elementary data structures (sequences, lists, sets, trees)

Grading Policy

Final Exam20%Proctored, taken individually, in the computer lab, using Maple.
Online Quizzes230%Canceled!  All students will receive an automatic 100% for both quizzes.
Biweekly Labs550%A learning experience, working with a partner, graded on attendance and participation.

Course Resources


Maple 10 is available in the CS and Drexel computing labs. Students may also download a personal copy of Maple 10 and install it on their own Windows PC, Macintosh, or Linux computer.  To download Maple 10, visit the Drexel IRT web page

and follow the downloading instructions.  Please consult the web page

for help resolving any problems you may encounter while trying to download the software.


Full documentation for Maple 10 is available online via the links listed below.
  1. Maple Getting Started Guide.
  2. Maple User Manual.
  3. Maple Introductory Programming Guide.
  4. Maple Advanced Programming Guide.
  5. Maple 10 Quick Reference Card - Windows Version.
  6. Maple 10 Quick Reference Card - Mac OS X Version.
  7. Maple 10 Quick Reference Card - UNIX Version.
Reference Books
  1. Charles F. van Loan, Introduction to Scientific Computing, 2nd Ed., Prentice Hall, 2000. 
Web Pages
  1. Maplesoft
  2. Maple Student Center
  3. Maple Essentials
  4. Maple Programming
  5. Maple Application Center 
  6. MaplePrimes Online Maple Community

Look Here for Important Announcements

Oct. 19Quiz 1 PostponedQuiz 1 has been postponed for two weeks so that the class will have adequate time to complete Labs 1 & 2 and prepare for the quiz.
Oct. 20Class 3 Catch-Up / Make-Up SessionClass 3 during Oct. 30 – Nov. 3 will be a catch-up/make-up class to complete Labs 1 & 2 and prepare/review for Quiz 1.    All students should attend this class.
Nov. 8Maple TA Accounts ReadyYour student account on the Maple TA website is now ready.  We have sent detailed Maple TA login instructions to the class by email.  If you did not receive login instructions by email, you can find these instructions in the Course Announcements section of WebCT.  Please login to your Maple TA account right away to verify that it is working correctly.  After you login, please change your Maple TA password immediately to ensure that your account is secure.
Nov. 9Quiz 1 Further Postponed to Finish Preparing Maple TAQuiz 1 has been postponed for (at least) one additional week so that we can finish setting up the Maple TA infrastructure needed to administer the quiz online.  We apologize for this delay and are working as hard as we can to ensure that your experiences with Maple TA will be very positive.  Further instructions for Quiz 1 will be sent to the class by email and posted in the Course Announcements section of WebCT as soon as possible.
Nov. 12Solutions to Labs 1 & 2 Available on WebCTDetailed solutions to Labs 1 & 2 are now available as Maple worksheets in the Lab Solutions media library on the WebCT home page for CS 121.
Nov. 27Quizzes 1 & 2 CanceledMaple TA has some unresolved technical problems and must be tested more thoroughly before it can be used successfully at Drexel.  Consequently, Quizzes 1 & 2 have been canceled this term.  All students will receive an automatic 100% for both quizzes.  We will begin using Maple TA next term in CS 122 to give a short online quiz on each lab every two weeks.
Dec. 1Final Exam NOT on Dec. 12!A preliminary version of the university final exam schedule stated that the CS 121 final exam will be given on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 8–10 AM.  This is a mistake and should be disregarded!  As your instructors stated at the beginning of the term, the final exam for this lab course will be given Dec. 4–8, the week before final exams are given for regular courses.
Dec. 3Final Exam AnnouncementsPlease see the Course Announcements section of WebCT for a detailed list of questions and answers concerning the final exam.  Note also that a practice final is now available to help you prepare for the exam.

Schedule of Events

The contents of the labs for this term are tentative and subject to change.

Class 1Oct. 2–6Lab 1:  Drawing Lines—A Slippery Slope:  An Introduction to Maple.  Reviews high school algebra using Maple.  Introduces plotting and equation solving.  Students will use Maple to determine a line given two distinct points, interpolate a quadratic through three points, and find the best line going through a collection of points scattered about a line.  Discussion will introduce interpolation and least squares.Lab 1 Worksheet

Lab 1 Summary
Class 2Oct. 16–20Lab 2:  The Quadratic Formula—Searching for Your Roots.  Reviews high school algebra using Maple (quadratic equation and complex numbers). Students will investigate which quadratic equations have real roots and will empirically compute the probability that a random quadratic equation has real roots. The empirical investigation will require students to write small Maple scripts (programming with loops and conditionals). Beyond the introduction to programming, the lab will attempt to convey the spirit of using Maple in particular and computers in general to perform empirical studies. Discussion will introduce polynomial root finding and solvability of polynomial equations.Lab 2 Worksheet

Lab 2 Summary
Class 3Oct. 30 – Nov. 3Catch-up/make-up class to complete Labs 1 & 2 and prepare/review for Quiz 1.  All students should attend this class.(see links above for lab summaries)
Quiz 1CanceledAll students will get an automatic 100% for Quiz 1.  We will start using Maple TA for online assessment in CS 122 next term.Maple TA
Class 4Nov. 13–17Lab 3:  Sequences, Limits, Functions, and Procedures.  This lab revisits sequences and introduces Maple procedures and recursion.  Sequences are used to empirically study limits, and Maple's limit command is used to symbolically verify the empirical behavior that is witnessed.  We will see that it is easy to define your own functions in Maple.  The arrow operator can be used to define simple functions that map an input to an arbitrary Maple expression.  More complicated functions (for example, using arbitrary programming constructs such as loops and conditionals) can be defined using Maple procedures.  Maple procedures let you extend Maple by adding your own commands.Lab 3 Worksheet
Class 5Nov. 27 – Dec. 1Lab 4:  Computing Derivatives.  This lab shows how to differentiate Maple expressions and functions.  First, the limit command is used to compute derivatives using the definition of the derivative, and then Maple's diff command is used to symbolically differentiate Maple expressions.  Maple's differentiation operator D(...) is used to symbolically differentiate Maple functions.  The lab gives some indication of how Maple's diff command could be implemented and illustrates how to compute the value of the derivative of a function at a point using a process called "numeric differentiation."
Lab 4 Worksheet
Quiz 2CanceledAll students will get an automatic 100% for Quiz 2.  We will start using Maple TA for online assessment in CS 122 next term.Maple TA
Final ExamDec. 4–8 (NOT Dec. 12)Taken in your usual lab room on your usual lab day and time (during the week before finals week).  Exam will cover Labs 1–3 and will use Maple (not Maple TA).  Lab 4 will be tested next term.  The use of approved reference materials will be allowed; e.g., Maple online help, Lab 1–3 worksheets, Lab 1 & 2 summaries, a two-page handwritten "cheat sheet," and the practice final, but not Lab 1–3 solutions or materials prepared by other students.  Exams will be submitted online using WebCT.Practice Final

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ1:  How often does this class meet?

The class meets every other week.  All the sections meet the same week.  Please see the schedule of events for more information.

FAQ2:  Do we hand in the labs to be graded?

No, the labs are not collected and formally graded.  If you attend the class and make a good effort to work on the lab in class, you will get credit for the lab.  The labs are intended primarily as a learning experience for you—we will use the quizzes and the final exam to test what you learned by doing the labs.

FAQ3:  Am I expected to finish each lab by the end of class?

No, definitely not, but you can at least get off to a good start by the end of class.  The labs are substantial, and we expect most students will need to spend some time during the off weeks to complete the lab from the week before.

FAQ4:  Where can I get extra help outside of class?

You can get extra help with the labs in office hours in the Cyber Learning Center (UC 147) during off weeks.  You can also get extra help any time via the online course discussion group on WebCT.  If all else fails, you can always send email to your instructor.

FAQ5:  May I attend another section's class if I cannot attend my regularly scheduled class due to special circumstances?

Yes, we will try to accommodate you, if there is a good reason why you cannot attend your regular section.  You must contact your instructor in advance so that we can be sure the alternate section has space for you that day.

FAQ6:  How do I make up a missed lab?

If you cannot attend your regular class or make arrangements to attend an alternate class (see FAQ5), you can make up the lab by getting the Maple worksheet from the course web page and working through the lab on your own.  Feel free to get extra help with the lab outside of class (see FAQ4). Save all of your work as a Maple worksheet and then send your Maple worksheet as an email attachment to your instructor before the next class meets.

Originally created on 7/20/2005 by Dr. Jeremy Johnson ().

Last updated on 1/15/2007 by Dr. Frederick W. Chapman ().

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