6.055J/2.038J (Spring 2008)
Art of approximation in science and engineering

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

Newest items are in yellow.

Your comments on the course: This document has all your comments from the HKN evaluation. Thank you for the comments and suggestions. The plan for next year: more demonstrations, more problems, and a textbook. Happy estimating!

Time/place MWF 1-2, Room 4-145
Instructor Sanjoy Mahajan (primary), Rohan Abeyaratne
Handouts Grading philosophy |  Logarithms using musical intervals
Homework HW 1 |  HW 2 |  HW 3 |  HW 4 |  HW 5 |  HW 6 |  HW 7
Solutions Solution 1 |  Solution 2 |  Python code for Solution 2, Problem 9 |  Solution 3 |  Solution 4 |  Solution 5 |  Solution 6
Notes (All the notes in one PDF file)

Interesting papers G. B. West et. al., "A General Model for the Origin of Allometric Scaling Laws in Biology
G. B. West et. al., "The Fourth Dimension of Life: Fractal Geometry and Allometric Scaling of Organisms"
Interesting books Arthur Engel, Problem-solving Strategies (Springer, 1998)
Knut Schmid-Nielsen, Scaling: Why Animal Size is So Important (CUP, 1984)
Steven Vogel, Life in Moving Fluids (Princeton, 1996)
George Polya, Induction and Analogy in Mathematics (Princeton, 1954)
Interesting links Dangers of the resistive grid (comic)