CPI 200: Mathematical Foundations for Informatics

CIDSE at Arizona State University
Spring 2019  * T, TH 12:00 - 1:15pm  *  BYENG 209


Instructor: D. Hansford, Ph.D.

Tel: 480-703-0263
Office: BYENG M1-02
Office Hours: T 1:30-2:30pm, W 2:00 - 3:00pm, and by appointment

Syllabus           Class Log

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.

  • 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

Lecture slides will be provided.


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

  • 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 and participate


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

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

Missed tests and quizzes may be made-up and assignment extensions given if a valid excuse is presented with documentation. If you have a personal or family emergency that causes you to get behind in the class, please let me know and we can make a plan.

The University has policies regarding religious holidays and sanctioned events. Please notify me if these situations apply to you.

Accumulated score rounded to the nearest integer and letter grade assigned by rule:
A: 90-100, B: 80-89, C: 70-79, D: 60-69, E: <60

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

ASU's Academic Credit Policy --> You should average at least 6 hours/week outside of class


MAT 242 Linear Algebra and MAT 243 Discrete Math (or MAT 342 or 343) with C or better

Classroom Behavior

Cell phones must be turned off during class to avoid causing distractions.  The use of recording devices is not permitted during class.  Any violent or threatening conduct by an ASU student in this class will be reported to the ASU Police Department and the Office of the Dean of Students.

Disability Resource Center:

Suitable accommodations will be made for students having disabilities and students should notify the instructor as early as possible if they will require same.  Such students must be registered with the Disability Resource Center and provide documentation to that effect. 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. Violations will be reported to the Dean's office. 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. Please review the university academic integrity policy webpage.

Also review Student's Rights and Responsibilities, Code of Conduct, and policies to create a safe learning environment.

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

As a mandated reporter, I am obligated to report any information I become aware of regarding alleged acts of sexual discrimination, including sexual violence and dating violence.  ASU Counseling Services is available if you wish discuss any concerns confidentially and privately.