Introduction to Numerical Methods

I.     Course Prefix/Number: CSC 170

       Course Name: Introduction to Numerical Methods

       Credits: 2 (1 lecture; 1 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

MAT 250 and concurrent registration in any of CSC 171, CSC 172 or CSC 173.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

An introduction to the tools available for solving numerically intensive applications that occur in scientific and engineering fields.  The study of numerical algorithms will be supported by the use of a computer algebra system.  Network utilities will enable students to use the Internet for communication and learning purposes.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Use network resources for information gathering and dispersion in a responsible manner.
  2. Apply the tools of problem analysis and algorithmic development to problems from the natural sciences and engineering.
  3. Solve numerically intensive problems using a computer algebra system.
  4. Analyze numerically derived methods for truncation errors and algorithmic stability.
  5. Survey elementary numerical algorithms.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Networks and the Internet
    1. Electronic mail
    2. Remote machine access
      1. telnet/ftp
    3. HTML
      1. Tables
      2. Forms
      3. Graphics
      4. Links
      5. Javascript
  2. Computer Algebra System (Mathematica)
    1. Visualization
    2. Symbolic manipulation
      1. algebra
      2. calculus
    3. Elementary programming
      1. functions
      2. lists
  3. Numerical Methods
    1. Root Searching
      1. Bisection/Newton (Divide and Conquer methodologies)
    2. Quadrature
      1. Trapezoid/Simpson (Iterative techniques introduced for integration)
    3. Integration
      1. Euler/Runge Kutta (Functions, Iterations, and Recursion introduced)
    4. Extrapolation
      1. Least Squares (Linear Regression Programming)

Tentative Weekly Outline of Course Computer Laboratory Topics / Projects



Class Topics


Lab 0

The Internet, HTML, Internet Explorer, Mathematica Basics, JavaScript Difference Equations


Lab 1

HTML Fonts, lists and links, HTML Graphics and tables, JavaScript, Interpolation



Mathematica Loop Structures


Lab 2

JavaScript Forms, Mathematica Functions, Root Searching: Newton’s Method



JavaScript Functions



Loop structures


Lab 3

Quadrature: Rectangular Approximations


Exam 1 




Conditional Statements, Mathematica Recursion


Lab 4

Variables and Functions, Integration: Trapezoidal and Simpson’s Rule






Substitution, Lists and Iteration


Lab 5

Least Squares and Regression



Modules and Local Variables


Lab 6




Review for Exam


Exam 2

Review for Exam

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lectures, class discussions, individual and group projects and use of a computer laboratory.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Reading of the text is required as is use of a computer laboratory in order to complete the machine assignments.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Quizzes, examinations, final examination, individual and group programming assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.