Electronic Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

San Francisco, California, November 4-7, 1999

Paper C018

Using StarLogo to Introduce Differential Equations

Philip Anderson

Department of Mathematics
South Plains College
Box 134
Levelland, TX 79336

Carl R. Seaquist

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409-1042

Click to access this paper: paper.pdf


Massively parallel programming languages, like StarLogo, provide a rich environment for introducing differential equations to students with an unsophisticated mathematical background. In this paper we describe the basic software for simulating and monitoring various population dynamics. Simple differential equations that describe the observed dynamics are introduced. The same environment is then used to explore solutions to the differential equations using Euler's method. Many solutions can be displayed simultaneously and viewed as a flow, which is easier to understand than the more traditional slope fields. All software is written in StarLogo, a massively parallel version of Logo, and can be easily modified, thus permitting students to embark on their own explorations.

Keyword(s): differential equations, programming