Physics 410: Computational Physics (Fall 2004)
Instructor: Matthew (Matt) W. Choptuik
Office: Hennings 403 --- Office Hours: Drop-in (appointment preferred)
Office Phone: 822-2412 --- Home Phone: 222-9424
Grader: Bruno Mundim, Hennings 408,
Lab TA (unofficial): Pal Sandhu, Hennings 414,
Course Home Page:
Instructor's Home Page:
- Tuesday/Thursday, 10:00-11:20 AM -- Hennings 318
This course will provide an introduction
to techniques and applications in computational physics. Topics to
be covered include: Unix fundamentals; symbolic & numeric computation
and programming with Maple; scientific programming using Fortran 77;
solution of linear systems; basic numerical analysis for continuum
systems; solution of ordinary differential equations.
There will be a significant programming component in virtually all stages of
the course: tutorial sessions with the instructor can
be arranged for those of you desiring additional help with programming.
See below for a concise syllabus and the
Course Topics page for a slightly more
detailed description of course coverage.
Text: Due to the significant diversity in topics to be covered,
there is no required text for the course. For testing purposes,
you will be responsible only for material covered in lectures
and homework assignments. I will distribute some class
notes when appropriate, but you will also be responsible for
taking notes in class. The optional text, Numerical Recipes (2nd edition),
by Press et al is particularly recommended for those of you
who anticipate doing further numerical work. Note, however, that the full text
of the book is available
Also note that there are distinct Fortran 77 and
C versions of the book: choose the one which you feel will suit you
best. See the Suggested References
page for texts and other references pertinent to the course,
and the Course Resources
web page for a collection of on-line reference/instructional
Grades: Tests, Homework and Term Projects
Your mark in this course will be determined on the basis of your
performance on five homework assignments, a term project,
and two tests---a mid-term and a final---with the following weighting:
Final marks may be subject to small adjustments based on overall class
- Midterm: 10%
- Final: 10%
- Homework Assignments: 55%
- Term Projects: 25%
There will be two one-hour tests: one in-class and one in the
final exam period:
Note that the Midterm and Final count equally towards your final
grade. In particular, although the Final exam will be scheduled
in a regular examination slot, it will not take much longer
than the mid-term to complete.
- Midterm: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 10:00 AM
- Final: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 3:30 PM, (CEME 1202)
Except under extremely
extenuating circumstances there will be NO makeup tests
See the syllabus below for scheduled homework due dates.
Homework will be assigned at least a week before it is due;
late homework may be accepted at the instructor's discretion,
and as per the Late Homework Policy described below.
As the course progresses, the Homework Schedule
web page will contain information concerning current and past assignments.
Each homework will contribute roughly equal weight to your final mark
but I will discount your worst mark.
Either individually or in consultation with the
instructor, each student must choose a topic for a term project in
some area of computational physics. A final list of suggested
topics will be posted by Thursday, September 23 and
a one-page outline of your selected project is due Tuesday, October 19 at the latest.
You are encouraged to develop your own project ideas, but all project topics must be
approved by the instructor.
Please note that the one-page precis must be submitted in addition to the
final paper, and that the outline will not graded nor otherwise evaluated in the
normal case. It serves the purpose of ensuring that every student has selected an
appropriate project and is fully cognizant of the major components of work that
must be performed for the project to be successfully completed.
Even if the bulk of the project involves programming,
a term paper describing the project must be prepared in the style
of a technical paper or a scientific essay (ask now if you are
unsure of what that means!), and hardcopy of your paper MUST be submitted
to the instructor, in class, in person, or via the instructor's mailbox in the
Physics and Astronomy main office. You are free to
submit preliminary drafts of your paper to the instructor for
critique; such pre-assessment will not affect your final grade
on the paper. You are encouraged to use LaTeX (or TeX)
mathematical typesetting software to prepare your papers. Suggested
paper length is 15-20 pages double spaced, including figures, graphs
and source code listings. Note that the project need not involve
programming: for example, a critical essay on the impact of computation on a
particular sub-field of physics is a viable option, provided that the student can
convince the instructor that she/he has sufficient programming expertise and experience
for the usual programming requirement to be waived.
are due on December 2 (the last class day). Late projects will be accepted
at the instructor's discretion. and as per the Late Work Policy
Term project code (including graphical code) must run on the course Linux machines
in Hennings 205, and, in particular, cannot be MS-Windows specific.
Late Work Policy (Strictly Enforced)
From time to time, work may be submitted late, subject to the following conditions:
- If an extension is required, the extendee must submit a request for an extension,
via e-mail, to the instructor, before
the assignment is due.
- Submitted homework which absolutely must be submitted before the homework key
is distributed, must
similarly be accompanied by an e-mail indicating completion of the work.
Note that all messages are to be sent to the instructor, not the TA, and
that if you finish the homework on time, no additional action on your part is required.
All students will be provided with an account for use
Physics & Astronomy Computer Lab
currently located in Hennings 205. You will also
be given an account on the Linux Lab machines, which
you will use for the majority of your homework assignments
and, if you wish, your term projects.
As the course progresses, and should your term project require it, you will also be given access to the
Beowulf Pentium III/Linux cluster,
As mentioned above, individual or small-group
tutorial sessions may be
arranged at mutually agreeable times for those of you who require
additional help, particularly with the programming aspects of the
course. Although I will try to detect when supplementary instruction
is required, please contact me (e-mail preferred) if and when you
think you could use a session or two.
You should also feel free to contact me via
e-mail (preferred) or phone if you
have quick questions, or if you are having difficulty getting
something to work. Perhaps most importantly, you should strive
to develop the ability to make effective use of the available
documentation for the software you are using (on-line help,
man pages, Web resources, etc.). On-line help tends to
be extensive these days and a little time invested in learning
how to extract the information you are looking for
usually pays off.
[Project outlines due]
[H3 due] and
Solution of ODEs
REMEMBRANCE DAY [NO CLASS]
Solution of ODEs
Solution of ODEs
Solution of ODEs
[HW5 & Term Projects due]
- Homework assignments
are denoted H1 through H5.
- See Course Topics page for a more
detailed outline of course material.
- Term project outlines are due OCTOBER 19 although earlier
submissions are encouraged
- Term projects are due DECEMBER 2 (last class day)
Other Important Dates
PHYS Exam Schedule, Exam Schedule pages for more information
- Tuesday, September 21: Last day for withdrawal from most
Term 1 courses without withdrawal standing of "W" recorded
on a student's academic record.
- Monday, October 11: Thanksgiving Day, University closed.
- Friday, October 15: Last date for withdrawal from most Winter
Session Term 1 courses with withdrawal standing of "W" recorded
on a student's academic record.
- Thursday, November 11: Remembrance Day. University closed. NO CLASS.
- Friday, December 3: Last day of classes.
- Tuesday, December 7: Examinations begin.
- Tuesday, December 21: Examinations end.