MAS2502 : Introduction to Computing and Problem Solving

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce the mathematical and statistical computer environments Matlab and R. To promote familiarity with both these environments for standard mathematical and statistical operations, and to work towards the ideas of coding user-defined functions, and further towards programming aimed at solving more substantial problems.

To promote some element of independent thinking and critical appraisal by linking the computational experience to the tackling of unfamiliar problems. Through these aims, to prepare for computational/problem solving needs in Applied and Statistics modules taken in Semester 2 and in Stage 3.

Module summary

Computing methods are of great use in a wide range of applications of [pure and] applied mathematics and statistics. This module will introduce and develop familiarity with mathematical/statistical computing, relate this to problem solving techniques based on independent thinking, and develop the ability to apply such methods independently, towards specific goals in mathematical and statistical study and applications.

Outline Of Syllabus

Use of Matlab and R for mathematical and statistical computing. Getting started, input and output, data types, plotting and simple calculations, control statements, functions, random variables.

Individual and group problems on existing mathematical and statistical knowledge (such as calculus, sequences and series, single value functions, curve sketching and simple numerical analysis, linear algebra, matrix manipulations, permutations and combinations, simulation of random variable, transformations and sums of random variables, sample means, variances, and the behaviour of these when considered as random variables).

Mathematical problems and puzzles from logic, number theory, geometry, algebra, probability, strategy.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion26:0012:00Revision for class tests
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Formal lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical22:004:00Class tests (one hour test within two hour practical session)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical92:0018:00Computer practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery120:102:00Office hours
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study117:0017:00Studying, practising and gaining understanding of course material
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study43:0012:00Review of coursework assignments and class tests
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study112:0012:00Preparation for team project
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study26:0012:00Preparation for coursework assignments
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work. Practicals are used to help the students to develop their programming skills but also afford an opportunity to develop the students’ abilities at applying the theory to solving problems. Office hours (two per week) provide an opportunity for more direct contact between individual students and the lecturer: a typical student might spend a total of one or two hours over the course of the module, either individually or as part of a group.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises1M20Coursework assignments
Written exercise1M30Team project
Computer assessment1M25PC test 1 (60 mins, in-class)
Computer assessment1M25PC test 2 (60 mins, in-class)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The team project and two coursework assignments of approximately equal weight allow the students to develop their problem solving techniques and to practise the methods learnt in the module. They also allows the assessment of the computational skills acquired by the students. The PC tests allow the students to assess their progress with the material. They both allow feedback to the students and so act as formative as well as summative assessment. The team project is a written report which will be marked by a module lecturer with one third of the group mark weighted by means of peer assessment.

Reading Lists