MATLAB for Math 20D

Welcome to the gateway page for the MATLAB portion of Math 20D! This part of the course is an introduction to the use of computer software to solve ordinary differential equations. The labs are meant not only to teach you how to use the software but also to help you see how the underlying algorithms actually work. The material also aims to give additional perspective to topics covered in the lecture, and it presents a few real-world applications that you might end up encountering in your major.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the computer labs in AP&M are no longer available. You may install MATLAB on your own computer for free following instructions here. We recommend this. More detailed information can be found at Working from Home on the sidebar.

If you don't have a computer, there is an option to request a loaner laptop here. MATLAB online works well if you use a Chromebook or you simply don't want to install MATLAB. You can use it for free once you create a MathWorks Account using your email address. If you don't have a computer but you have a tablet like an iPad, you can use MATLAB Mobile with a MathWorks Account. For the options above, you need to manage some M-files starting in the second assignment. CloudLabs also works and instructions are here. Beware it can be quite slow but you don't need to manage those M-files. Note that you need to connect via UCSD VPN to use CloudLabs.

In general, each lab is self-contained and can be completed without prior MATLAB experience, although some assignments depend on commands learned in earlier labs.

Assignments 1. Introduction to MATLAB Due Aug 10
2. Visualizing Solutions to ODEs Due Aug 14
3. Numerical Methods Due Aug 21
4. Systems of ODEs Due Aug 28

The due dates above are the standard dates for all 20D courses, but please note that your instructor may assign different dates, in which case his or her assigned dates take precedence. Please check your class's website to verify due dates.

Homework should be uploaded to Gradescope by 11:59 pm on the listed due dates. (See the instructions within Assignment 1 for more information.) Be careful to pace yourself with the rest of the course; if you see a midterm coming up near a MATLAB due date, it is to your advantage to do your homework early.

MATLAB Tutoring

In summer, there are no undergraduate MATLAB tutors. You can find help from your TAs on the MATLAB problems.


During the last week of the summer session, you will have to take a MATLAB quiz.

Quiz Time

The Math 20D quiz will be held

0:00 am PDT on Wednesday Sep 2 until 11:59 pm PDT on Thursday Sep 3
in "Quizzes" section on Canvas.

You can take it whenever the time is convenient for you during the period. The quiz starts the first time you access the quiz and ends after 60 minutes.

We do not offer make-up quizzes if you miss your quiz.


If you have any suggestions or comments about the lab assignments, we'd love to hear from you. Also, if you encounter any mistakes or broken links, let us know. Send an email to the Senior MATLAB TA.



  • Boyce, William E. and Richard C. DiPrima. Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems. 8th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
    This is the textbook for most of the Math 20D course.
  • Kreysig, Erwin. Advanced Engineering Mathematics. 7th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993.
    This book explains many of the applications of differential equations to science and engineering.
  • Stewart, James. Calculus - Early Transcendentals. 5th ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 2003.
    This is also a textbook for Math 20D, covering the first few weeks of the course.

Web Sites:

  • Wikipedia
    An excellent resource for articles on mathematical topics.
  • The Millenium Problems
    The Clay Mathematics Institute has offered a million dollar prize for the solution of a variety of open problems in mathematics. One such problem involves solving the Navier-Stokes equations, which are a set of differential equations.
  • MacTutor Archive
    The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive is a comprehensive reference for information about mathematicians and the history of mathematics. Biographies of mathematicians mentioned in these assignments are found on this site.
  • BCIT Math Applications
    This site is a great resource for finding applications of math to the real world.
  • MathWorks
    MathWorks is the creator of MATLAB. Product information and help can be found here.
  • UCSD Math
    This is the home page for the UCSD Department of Mathematics.
    This is the ETS (Educational Technology Services) home page, containing resources for computing at UCSD.


Faculty Coordinator Professor Bo Li
Graduate Student Coordinator Zilu Ma
Recent Faculty Coordinators Professor Leok
Professor Helton
Previous Faculty Coordinators Professor Bunch
Professor Driver
Professor Eggers
Professor Holst
Professor Li
Previous Graduate Student Coordinators Jay Cummings
Liz Fenwick
John Geller
James Hall
Dan Hoff
Derek Newland
Håkan Nordgren
Jacek Nowacki
Sean Raleigh
Alon Regev
Timothy Swec

Last Modified: 29 June 2019