MA30170/MA50170 - Numerical Solution of PDEs I

Academic year 2009-10, Semester 2

Jump within this page to:
Aims and objectives | General information | Lecturer | Lecture time and location | Lecture news | Homework assignments | Matlab help | Lecture notes | References | Assessment, exams & grades | Past exam papers

Aims and objectives

Aims: To teach numerical methods for elliptic and parabolic partial differential equations via the finite element method based on variational principles.

The course will teach you how to derive and implement the finite element method for a range of standard elliptic and parabolic partial differential equations in one and several space dimensions. In particular a large part of the course will be involved with deriving and using elementary error estimates for these methods.

See also the Programme/Unit Catalogue.

General information

This is the home page for the Department of Mathematical Sciences units on the Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations I. There are both a final year undergraduate and an MSc level version of this unit. The MSc Level version contains some additional material which the students have to learn through independent study.

Organisational issues are discussed in the information sheet handed out in week one.

I hope you will enjoy the course. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any problems. The contact details are given below.

I want you to understand everything we discuss in class. Please identify the topics you find difficult to understand, and discuss them with your colleagues. Please come and see me if the problem persists.


Lecturer: Johannes Zimmer
Office: 4W 1.10
Extension: x6097
Email: zimmer at

Lecture time and location

Mondays 12:15 3E 3.8
Thursdays 11:15 8W 2.1
Thursdays 12:15 8W 2.1

Note that occasionally, for example in the first week, the problem class will be used for a lecture as well.

Lecture news

Homework assignments

No Assigned Return date Homework Model solution
7 19 April 27 April pdf pdf
6 12 April 20 April pdf pdf
5 8 March 16 March pdf pdf
4 1 March 9 March pdf pdf
3 22 Feb 2 March pdf pdf (Matlab files)
2 15 Feb 23 Feb pdf pdf
1 8 Feb 16 Feb pdf pdf (laplace.m)

Each week some problem sheet questions will be set. Doing the problem sheet questions is an essential part of the course. Even though these problem sheets are not part of the assessed coursework, in later assessed coursework and in the exam it will be assumed that you have done these questions. Moreover the content of the classes in subsequent weeks will be designed on the assumption that you have done the problem sheets. The homework will normally be handed out on Mondays and is due on the following Tuesday at 10:15 (there is a folder marked MA30170/MA50170 outside 1W3.9b for you to hand in your solutions).

Matlab help

For general information on Matlab, there is, by courtesy of Ivan Graham, a short manual as well as a longer version.

For the FEM code fem0 (Dirichlet data), instructions are available in pdf format. Similarly, a manual for the code femg is available in pdf format.

The fem0 code is available as zip file. Alternatively, a list of files is available so that you can download the files individually.

Lecture notes

A set of lecture notes with gaps is available in pdf format. These notes are deliberately not presented in complete form but have gaps and hence require attendance during the lectures to be completed.

The revision slides are online: number one, number two and number three.


The references are available in pdf format.

Assessment, exams & grades

The assignment in pdf format.

Assessment scheme MA30170 (BSc version) The overall course grade will be determined according to the following weights: Exam 75%, Assignment 25%. The Assignment will be set in Week 5 and is due on Friday 26th April (Week 7) at 12.30 in the Departmental Office.

Assessment scheme MA50170 (MSc version) Exam 60%, Assignment 15%, Class Test 25%. The Assignment will be set in Week 5 and is due on Friday 26th April (Week 7) at 12.30 in the Departmental Office. The Class Test will be on FEM for parabolic PDEs (Sections 8.1-8.4.2 in Claes Johnson, Numerical solution of partial differential equations by the finite element method, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987), date to be fixed.

Past exam papers

Past exam papers are available from the library webpage.