edX: Mathematical Modeling Basics

 with  Marleen Keijzer, Dennis den Ouden-van der Horst, Iris Smit and Kees Vuik

How do populations grow? How do viruses spread? What is the trajectory of a glider?

Many real-life problems can be described and solved by mathematical models. In this course, you will form a team with another student and work in a project to solve a real-life problem.

You will learn to analyze your chosen problem, formulate it as a mathematical model (containing ordinary differential equations), solve the equations in the model, and validate your results. You will learn how to implement Euler’s method in a Python program.

If needed, you can refine or improve your model, based on your first results. Finally, you will learn how to report your findings in a scientific way.

This course is mainly aimed at Bachelor students from Mathematics, Engineering and Science disciplines. However it will suit anyone who would like to learn how mathematical modeling can solve real-world problems.


Module 1 (week 1):
  • Project: form a project team with another student.
  • Mathematical modeling cycle: Model a growing population of fish.
  • Introduction to the cycle of mathematical modeling. We will start describing a population of fish by a differential equation.
Module 2 (weeks 2 and 3):
  • Project: you will choose an assignment and collect information about a real-life problem.
  • Mathematical modeling cycle: Complete more modeling cycles by improving on the model and evaluating the consequences. Euler’s method is introduced for solving ordinary differential equations. 
Module 3 (week 4):
  • Project: Specify your real-life problem and choose values.
  • Mathematical modeling cycle: Predator fish are added to the model. How do the populations interact?
Module 4 (weeks 5 and 6):
  • Project: You implement Euler’s method for your problem and explore how you can extend your model. You write a short report on the first model.
  • Mathematical modeling cycle: You learn how to write about your project in a scientific report. You will be introduced to scientific and mathematical writing. You will learn how to write a preliminary report about mathematical modeling in LaTeX. 
Module 5 (weeks 7, 8 and 9):
  • Project: You review the preliminary reports of your peers.
  • Helped by the feedback of your peers, you complete the modeling cycle several times.
  • You specify your problem further, improve and extend your mathematical model, refine the calculations, and validate the results until your problem is solved.
  • You write a final report on your model, implementing the feedback of your peers.
After submitting your final report, you'll review reports of your peers.
0 Student
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Self Paced
Subject Mathematics
Provider edX
Language English
Hours 4-8 hours a week
Calendar 9 weeks long

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What are MOOCs?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses from universities around the world (eg. Stanford Harvard MIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
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To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you.  They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.

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