CPI 200:
Mathematical Foundations
of Informatics

Arizona State University
Spring Semester 2017

T, TH: 9:00 - 10:15 in ED 250

Instructor: Dianne Hansford, Ph.D.


Office: BYENG 346

Office Hours: After class and by appointment


Grader: TBA  



What is Informatics?

The study of how information is collected, organized, manipulated, classified, stored, retrieved, and visualized.

We live in a data-centric world - just look at the web. There are many new data acquisition tools and nearly everyone is creating content. Everyday we are touched by informatics: GPS, email, Google, Travelocity, YouTube, Facebook, ... The key to making advances in areas such as science, engineering, and medicine, is to transform information into knowledge. Informatics provides the tools for this.

Course Description:

This course introduces the mathematical skills necessary to use and understand informatics tools. Students will develop a breadth of knowledge and an understanding of the importance of mathematics in computing.

Topics Covered:

  • Computational Basics: number systems, floating point numbers, finite precision, scale
  • Algorithms: definition, types, and basics of complexity
  • Numerical Linear Algebra: 2D and 3D geometry basics, linear maps, linear systems, eigen-things
  • Numerical Calculus Concepts: differential and integral concepts, limits and continuity, data fitting
  • Statistical Methods: regression
  • Visualization: empirical data, scalar data over 2D and volumes, triangle meshes, basics of computer graphics

Mathematica, a high-level programming environment with a visualization component, will be introduced to give students hands-on experience with the topics and enhance the learning experience. No prior background in computing is necessary.

Real-world examples from the students' disciplines will be used to motivate the topics.

Students will leave the course prepared for an array of more advanced courses in informatics. Additionally, students will leave the course with an appreciation of advanced mathematics and be positioned to learn more advanced topics through self-study.



Mathematical Principles for Scientific Computing and Visualization by Gerald Farin and Dianne Hansford, A K Peters, 2008


This page and the class log are the primary webpages for this course.
Blackboard will be used for turning in assignments and posting announcements.

Course Structure

  • Lectures, videos, and Mathematica demonstrations in class
    -- learn why the topic is important, learn the fundamentals, and see it at work

  • Homeworks: math topic + writing component + use of a software tool
    -- learn the topic, learn a tool, and learn to communicate better

  • In class exercises and quizzes: practice key concepts of the day
    -- bring paper, pencil, and eraser to class and be prepared to work on examples

  • Students are expected to attend class


Mid-term test: 25%
End-term test: 25%
4 Homeworks: 40% (each 10%)
Quizzes: 10%

Late work will be discounted at a rate of 5% per day.

Missed tests and quizzes may be made-up if a valid excuse is presented with documentation.

Accumulated score rounded up to nearest integer and letter grade assigned by rule:
A: 90-100, B: 80-89, C: 70-79, D: 60-70, E: <60

"Plus grades" (A+, B+, etc) are earned through above average class participation.


Students are expected to enter the course with Linear Algebra and Discrete Math.

Disability Resource Center:

Please check the website for ASU's Disability Resource Center for assistance.

Academic Integrity:

Violations of the University Academic Integrity policy will not be ignored.   Penalties include reduced or no credit for submitted work, a failing grade in the class, a note on your official transcript that shows you were punished for cheating, suspension, expulsion and revocation of already awarded degrees.  The university requires that should I implement any of these penalties, I must report the matter to the Dean's office. Please visit the university academic integrity policy webpage.

Also see: Student's Rights and Responsibilities and Code of Conduct

Title IX is a federal law that provides that no person be excluded on the basis of sex from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.  Both Title IX and university policy make clear that sexual violence and harassment based on sex is prohibited.  An individual who believes they have been subjected to sexual violence or harassed on the basis of sex can seek support, including counseling and academic support, from the university.  If you or someone you know has been harassed on the basis of sex or sexually assaulted, you can find information and resources at the university's sexual violence education webpage