Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Mathematics (MATH)

MATH 450 Mathematical Modeling (3) Constructing mathematical models of physical phenomena; topics include pendulum motion, polymer fluids, chemical reactions, waves, flight, and chaos.

MATH 450 Mathematical Modeling (3)

The purpose of the course is to introduce mathematical modeling, i.e., the construction of mathematical structures which capture relevant physical phenomena. The course will systematically explore mathematical ideas and tools used to study the natural world. Particular emphasis will be placed on the process of creating a mathematical model starting from a physical scenario. Typically this process will begin with an experiment either demonstrated in the W. G. Pritchard Lab or performed by the students in class.

Once a particular model has been developed, students will use mathematical analysis and experimentation to determine the properties and relevance of the model, and to make predictions. Often the model can be satisfactory; however, many times one also finds new features of the system that are not adequately accounted for in the model, and the process begins again. It is this cycle the course will focus on. For a given phenomenon (e.g., flow of viscous fluid, pendulum motion) several models may be compared and contrasted, and possible simplifications will be discussed.

A significant aspect of the course is its laboratory component, in which the students will perform experiments or observe demonstrations. However, the main emphasis will be placed on creating and rigorously analyzing the mathematical aspects of the models. Instead of presenting a finely tuned model for a given phenomenon, this course will try to convey some of the heuristic, intuitive, and mathematical ideas employed in modeling.

Examples of physical systems to be considered include: simple and compound pendulum motion, chemical oscillations, water waves, and elastic behavior of polymer solutions.

The course is open to a wide range of undergraduate as well as graduate students with majors in mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics. The course should be accessible to students with some basic knowledge of mathematical analysis and differential equations. Main topics include: modeling with ordinary differential equations; bifurcation theory and stability; traveling waves in epidemics, chemical reactions, free fluid surfaces, and polymer solutions; fluctuations in nature, stochastic differential equations and chaos.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Quantification
Effective: Spring 2007
Prerequisite: MATH 315 andMATH 430 orMATH 405 orMATH 412

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking