MATH 102 - Differential Calculus with Applications to Life Sciences

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Course overview

As with any course on differential calculus, the central character in this course is the derivative. The course starts by building up to the limit definition of the derivative and proceeds through analytical, graphical and numerical approaches to build students' understanding of several types of functions and their derivatives. Next, we cover optimization, with applications to biological systems as well as principles of data fitting. A section on growth, decay and periodic phenomena precedes an introduction to differential equations and their use in modeling of biological systems.

One big difference between this course and a more traditional calculus course is the inclusion of examples and applications from the life sciences in place of the more traditional emphasis on physics. These examples and applications come from a wide range of fields including biochemistry, cell biology, ecology, genetics, population biology and evolution.

You should have taken a calculus course already if you are enrolled in this course. If you have never taken a calculus course, you should talk to your advisor at the beginning of the year about transferring to Math 180, 184, or 110.

Things not to miss

Students often miss useful resources that we provide. In addition to the menu items to the left, below is a list of things that you should make sure to check out. Some of these are duplicates of menu item but provide a brief description.

  • Piazza is the online forum for Math 102. Sign up for a Piazza account through Connect.
  • The Math Learning Centre is a free tutoring service provided by graduate students in our department.
  • WeBWorK FAQ - a small but growing list of common pitfalls.
  • Spreadsheet help. Some WeBWorK problems require a spreadsheet. This page has video tutorials that will help you learn how to use a spreadsheet effectively.
  • Videos and demos - a collection of videos and Desmos apps that help illustrate important concepts.
  • Practice problems - a somewhat random collection of problems, in case the regular WeBWorK, "Extra practice" WeBWorK, OSH and problems at the back of each chapter in the course notes leaves you wanting more practice.
  • Sustainability and MATH 102.