Physics 387M: Relativity Theory I (Fall 1997)

Schedule: Tue, Thu 12:30 - 2:00 PM --- RLM 5.124 --- Unique # 54890

Instructor: M.W. Choptuik
Office: RLM 9.208A --- Office Hours: Mon, Wed 10:00-11:30 and by appointment
Phone: 471-1541 --- E-mail:
Instructor's Home Page:
Course Home Page:

News (last updated, Thursday, Dec. 11, 12:15am)
Course Notes
Homework Schedule, Problem Sets and Keys

Final Exam: Wednesday, December 10, 7:00--10:00 pm in CPE 2.210
See the News page for unofficial final grades.

Recommended Text: General Relativity by R. M. Wald, The University of Chicago Press, 1984

Course Overview: This course will provide an introduction to the theory of general relativity. Coverage will roughly parallel the first six chapters, plus Appendices B and C, of Wald:

See the syllabus below for a preliminary list of topics to be covered on a per-lecture basis. From time to time I will distribute course notes, but for the most part you will be responsible for taking notes in class.

Other References: Apart from Wald, there are a quite a number of standard textbooks and references on General Relativity. Three which I particularly recommend are

Copies of these will be placed on two hour reserve in the PMA library.

Grades: Homework and Exams:

Course grades will be determined on the basis of performance on a number of homework assignments, and on an open-book final exam, with the following weighting: The final exam will be held Wednesday, December 10, 7:00--10:00 pm in CPE 2.210. Students who have a conflict with this time are responsible for arranging an alternate time with the instructor You will be responsible for all material covered in class and homework assignments for the final.

Homework: Homework will be assigned roughly every two weeks, and will generally be due within one to two weeks. Late homework may be accepted at the instructor's discretion. As the course progresses, the Homework Schedule web page will contain information concerning current and past assignments. The weight of each individual homework towards your final mark will be based on the complexity and difficulty of the assignment.

All homework must be submitted by December 4 (the last class day) at the latest.

Computer Access:

Apart from lectures, my preferred means of communicating general course information will be via e-mail. All students should have an account on the Physics Dept. public Unix systems located in the Graduate Computer Lab, RLM 3.118. Please send me an e-mail message as soon as possible giving me your preferred e-mail address. You will be also be given remote access to the Center for Relativity Unix machines. Some of the homework assignments will require use of the Maple symbolic manipulation package and I will encourage you to use Relativity machines for that purpose.


Due Tuesday Thursday

August 28

September 2
Manifolds and Vectors
September 4

September 9
September 11
Derivative Operators
Homework 1 September 16
Differential Forms and Integration
September 18
Lie Derivatives

September 23
September 25
Homework 2 September 30
October 2
Computing Curvature

October 7
Special Relativity
October 9
General Relativity: Field Equations

October 14
General Relativity: Field Equations
October 16
Linearized Gravity

October 21
Linearized Gravity
October 23
Gravitational Radiation

October 28
Schwarzschild Solution
October 30
Schwarzschild Solution

November 4
Geodesics of Schwarzschild
November 6
Classical Tests

November 11
Classical Tests
November 13
The Kruskal Extension

November 18
Black Holes
November 20
Cosmology: Homogeneity & Isotropy

November 25
Cosmology: Dynamics
November 27

December 2
Brief History of the Universe
December 4
Review & Class Evaluation