Math 121B - Mathematical Tools for the Physical Sciences
Spring 2021

Instructor: Marc A. Rieffel
Lectures: MWF 9:10-10:00 AM, via Internet/Online
Course Control Number: 22833
Office Hours: via Zoom, probably M 10:30-11:30; W 2-3:30; F 10:15-10:45
e-mail: rieffel at

Prerequisites: Math 53 and 54 or equivalent

Required Text: Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd ed, by Mary L. Boas, Wiley Pub.

Syllabus: Special functions, series solutions of ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations arising in mathematical physics, probability theory. Chapters 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the textbook.

Lectures : There will be a bCourses site for the course. The lectures (via Zoom) will be recorded and posted on that site.

Examinations The format and mechanics of the examinations will be posted on the bCourses site for this course. They will probably involve GradeScope.

The final examination will take place on Monday, May 10, 7-10 PM.
There will be no early or make-up final examination.

There will be two midterm examinations. They will take place on Wednesday February 17 and Wednesday March 31. (Those dates could change if important reasons for a change arise.)

Most weeks there will be one short quiz.

Grading: The final examination will count for 30% of the course grade.

Each midterm exam will each count for 25% of the course grade. Makeup midterm exams will not be given; instead, if you tell me ahead of time that you must miss one of the midterm exams, then the final exam and the other components will count more to make up for it. If you do not tell me ahead of time, then you will need to bring me a doctor's note or equivalent to try to avoid a score of 0. If you miss both midterm exams, you will need a truly extraordinary documented reason in order to avoid a score of 0 on at least one of them.

The combined quiz scores will count for 20% of the course grade. The two lowest quiz scores will be dropped. Makeup quizzes will not be given.

Homework: There will be weekly homework assignments due the Tuesday of the following week. (That could be changed to Thursday if there is a strong preference for that.) The homework will not be graded, but submitted homework will be registered and may affect your grade by a few points. Late homework will not be accepted. Solutions to selected problems will be explained during office hours.

Students are strongly encouraged to discuss the course material and homework with each other (remotely).

Students who need special accommodation for examinations should have the appropriate paperwork sent to me, and must tell me between one and two weeks in advance of each exam what specific accommodation they need, so that I will have enough time to arrange it.

The above procedures are subject to change.

This page was last updated on 1/8/2021.