Teaching modeling with partial differential equations: Several successful approaches

Joseph Myers, David Trubatch, Brian Winkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We discuss the introduction and teaching of partial differential equations (heat and wave equations) via modeling physical phenomena, using a new approach that encompasses constructing difference equations and implementing these in a spreadsheet, numerically solving the partial differential equations using the numerical differential equation solver in Mathematica, and analytically constructing solutions from reasoned building blocks. We obtain graphical feedback as soon as possible in each approach and permit “what if” modeling wherever possible. This approach is contrasted with the usual Fourier series development and series solution using boundary value solution strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-182
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Analytic solution
  • Difference equation
  • Graphical feedback
  • Heat and wave equation
  • Mathematica
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Numerical solution
  • Partial differential equation
  • Spreadsheet


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