University of Memphis
Dept Math Sciences
Spring 2023


Course outline for MATH 2120, Differential Equations


We will cover the first eight chapters from the textbook (see below).
Chapters 1, 2, 3 cover applications and methods of solving first order equations.

Chapters 4 and 5 cover applications and methods of solving higher ordered equations.

Chapter 6 covers series solutions, Chapter 7 covers Laplace Transforms, and
Chapter 8 covers systems of linear equations.

Course Description:

Methods of integration, covered in Calculus II, are used to solve first-order ordinary
differential equations, motivated by problems in physics, engineering, and biology.

We next study linear higher-ordered equations, with in-depth analysis of the second
order equations describing vibrational mechanics and electric (RLC) circuits.

Next, series methods (again, as covered in Calculus II) are used to find solutions
to other equations (again, mostly motivated from electromagnetic theory), which
leads to an entire new class of functions defined as solutions to certain differential
equations.  At different times during the semester we will also discuss methods
derived by Laplace, giving an algebraic method for quickly solving many of the
specific problems described above.  Finally, we look at linear systems of differential
equations, with different equations coupled in a way described by matrix theory, and
the nature of solutions to such systems.

During each part of the course, we first analyze how the information given by the
differential equation may be used to describe the general behavior of solutions,
before actually trying to find the exact solutions in various cases.


Course Prerequisite:

MATH 1910 and 1920 (Differential and Integral Calculus, along with Sequences and Series). 



A First Course in Differential Equations, Dennis G. Zill, either the tenth or eleventh edition.
An electronic version of the 11th edition is available with WebAssign access (


Instructor:     D. P. Dwiggins (

                  BS, Physics, Southwestern at Memphis, 1980

                  MS, Mathematics, Memphis State University, 1984

                  PhD, Differential Equations, Southern Illinois University, 1993


Office:            Dunn Hall, Room 368, 678-4174

Hours:            9:00-10:00 Mondays, 11:00-1:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays,
                        with afternoon hours available upon request.


Course Evaluation:

There will be three 100-point tests and a 100-point daily average based on written
homework assignments (taken from the textbook).  The final exam is also worth
100 points, and may be used to replace a lower test score.  The semester average
is then based on dividing this 500-point total by five.  You can raise this average
using the additional homework assignments posted on WebAssign, giving a
600-point total to be divided by six.


Grade Calculation:

Based on the semester average, grades are assigned according to the posted Grade Scale.


Make-Up Policy:       Three-day make-up (with excuse) for missed test or exam.


Attendance Policy:   As needed for purposes of reporting to the University.


Class Meetings:         Dunn Hall, Room 225, 11:30-12:25 MWF.