Mathematics and Statistics >> Applied Mathematics

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Course Info

  • Course Number / Code:
  • 2.038J (Spring 2008) 
  • Course Title:
  • The Art of Approximation in Science and Engineering 
  • Course Level:
  • Undergraduate 
  • Offered by :
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Massachusetts, United States  
  • Department:
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 
  • Course Instructor(s):
  • Dr. Sanjoy Mahajan

  • Course Introduction:

  • 6.055J / 2.038J The Art of Approximation in Science and Engineering

    Spring 2008

    Course Highlights

    6.055J / 2.038J The Art of Approximation in Science and Engineering

    Spring 2008

    Circular water ripples on a pond produced by drops of rain.

    Water waves produced by drops of rain spread in all directions. Learn more in Chapter 10 of the readings. (Image courtesy of Stephen Cannon on Flickr.)

    Course Description

    This course teaches simple reasoning techniques for complex phenomena: divide and conquer, dimensional analysis, extreme cases, continuity, scaling, successive approximation, balancing, cheap calculus, and symmetry. Applications are drawn from the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Examples include bird and machine flight, neuron biophysics, weather, prime numbers, and animal locomotion. Emphasis is on low-cost experiments to test ideas and on fostering curiosity about phenomena in the world.


This course content is a redistribution of MIT Open Courses. Access to the course materials is free to all users.

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