Mathematical Computing, Spring 2023

Course: Math 250, Spring 2023.
Instructor: Christopher Hanusa — Email: — Office: Kiely Tower 606
Meeting Times and Location: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:15–10:30 AM in Powdermaker Hall 212

Course Web Site:
Online Community: Discord.

Textbook: None required. Some related resources are posted on our home page.
Required Expense: Midway through the semester, we will be creating 3D sculptures using Mathematica and sending them to be printed on the 3D printers at Shapeways. You will have to pay for printing your object. You can expect your final print to cost approximately $25–$75. (The exact cost will be different for everyone and depend on the size of your model and type of material used when printing.)

Installing Mathematica:

We will be using Mathematica daily. Access is provided for free to all CUNY students which is funded through the technology fee you pay. Here is how to get access.

  • First, create an account. go to and click "Create Account". Fill out the form using your Queens College email account, and click "Create Wolfram ID". Check your QC email and validate your Wolfram ID.
  • Next, request an Activation Key. Fill out this form to request an Activation Key. It will be delivered to your QC email.
  • Then, download and install Mathematica. Go back to the "Product Summary page" link on to access your license. Click "Get Downloads" and select "Download" next to your platform. Run the installer on your machine, and enter the Activation Key from your email at the prompt. Advance notice: It's a huge program—the full installation will take about 10GB of space on your hard drive! You have the option to install only the program and use exclusively the web documentation. I recommend that you do the full installation instead, unless disk space is a major issue.

(It is possible to use Mathematica Online. However, The online platform is limited in terms of the file size and computational power you are allocated and will not work if your internet connection goes down. If you decide to use Mathematica online, the first time you connect you should click here to upgrade your plan.)

Learning Objectives:

In the process of taking this course, students will:

  1. Learn the basics of programming in Mathematica.
  2. Use mathematics and programming for experimentation and as creative tools.
  3. Design, code, run, test, and debug computer programs.
  4. Demonstrate basic problem solving skills: Analyzing problems, modeling a problem as a system of objects, creating algorithms, and implementing solutions in Mathematica.
  5. Understand and apply techniques of functional programming.
  6. Advance teamwork skills by collaborating with classmates, discussing and solving problems in a group setting, and practicing giving and receiving constructive feedback.
  7. Develop a deeper understanding of three-dimensional geometry, including coordinate systems, multivariable functions, and three-dimensional objects.
  8. Apply the design process and communicate the decisions made therein, including ideation, artistic principles, prototyping, and revisions.
  9. Develop documentation techniques including commenting code and paying attention to the structure of notebooks.
  10. Become a confident and self-sufficient learner through the use of the Documentation Center.


Succeeding in this class will require your engagement. You are expected to come to class when you are healthy and contribute to our group class discussions when we are learning and applying new topics from tutorials. You are expected to contribute to Discord by asking questions about content that you don't understand, answering questions your fellow classmates asked, and responding to prompts given by your instructor. Additionally, you are expected to be a resource for your fellow classmates when working on projects, which entails sharing your gained knowledge during the coding phase, giving constructive feedback during peer review, and being generous during presentations.

You are expected to keep up with the pace of the class materials. Follow along on the Course Content page to know what is due when. You will be expected to follow along with the daily video tutorials and comprehension questions. Many hours of work will go into understanding small details. As in any class, you will need to put in the time to fully understand the concepts.

Our class's Discord Server is there for you to ask questions — you should ask even the most basic questions because other people will also have those questions and it can lead to an enriching class discussion. Think of it as a virtual study group. Study groups allow you to learn the intricacies of the material; discussion of problems often lead to better understanding and new and more efficient ways to solve the problems. One of the best ways to learn something is to explain it to someone else; misunderstandings that you never knew you had will appear under someone else's questioning! In addition, seeing that others also struggle with the material helps to put your own level of understanding in a better perspective and will hopefully reduce some of your anxiety.

If you miss a class, you are responsible for the material you missed—get the notes from your classmates and study group and make sure that you understand the material that you missed.

Grading Scheme:

Your grade will be based on class engagement and your projects. Each component of your grade is calculated independently; then all pieces are combined using the following weighted average.

Class Engagement: 10%
Project 1: 24%
Project 2: 33%
Project 3: 33%

It is the policy of the Queens College Mathematics Department that if you stop coming to class and do not withdraw from the class before the withdrawal deadline, you will be assigned a grade of WU, which can be worse than a grade of F in multiple ways. Before it gets to that point, come and discuss your situation with me so that we can come to arrangements and determine the best way forward.

Office Hours:

Office hours is the time that instructors set aside outside of class time for students to come and ask questions. I am happy to help you with your homework, project, and other class-related questions or concerns. The exact hours will be determined by group consensus during the first week of class and announced in class, as well as posted on my schedule. If those times don't work for you, send me an email or DM and we'll set up a time that works for you.


DON'T DO IT! It makes me very mad and very frustrated when students cheat. Cheating is the quickest way to lose the respect that I have for each student at the beginning of the semester.

Working together with classmates on homework and projects is encouraged and is certainly not considered cheating. (DO ask and answer each other's questions on Discord!) Furthermore, it is encouraged to download/explore/use other people's source code to learn about what is and is not possible to do using Mathematica. StackExchange is your friend.

On the other hand, copying content from online or offline sources and passing it off as your own work IS cheating. The work you turn in for your projects must be your own, substantially different from work found elsewhere, and include citations of any code that you use or that inspired your project.

Since this is time for joint exploration and learning, please do not ask students who previously took this class for help on your projects. The struggle in the class is part of the learning process.

I take cheating very seriously. If you cheat, you will receive a zero for the assignment and I will report you to the academic integrity committee in the Office of Student Affairs to be placed on your permanent file. If you cheat twice, you will receive a zero for the class.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should register with and provide documentation to the Office of Special Services, Frese Hall, room 111. The Office of Special Services will provide a letter for you to bring to your instructor indicating the need for accommodation and the nature of it. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens College students, contact the Office of Special Services (718-997-5870) or visit their website ( If you need special accommodation for an assessment, contact me at least one week beforehand.

Course Evaluations

During the final four weeks of the semester, you will be asked to complete an evaluation for this course by filling out an online questionnaire. Please remember to participate in these course evaluations. Your comments are highly valued, and these evaluations are an important service to fellow students and to the institution, since your responses will be pooled with those of other students and made available online at Please also note that all responses are completely anonymous; no identifying information is retained once the evaluation has been submitted.

Technical Support

The Queens College Helpdesk (, (718) 997-4444, is located in the I-Building, Room 151 and provides technical support for students who need help with Queens College email, CUNY portal, Blackboard, and CUNYfirst.