# PHYS 3340 Overview and Grading Policy

## Spring 2009

`Last edit: 20 Jan 2009`

**Prof. Thomas Coan (x8-2497)**
**coan@mail.physics.smu.edu**

**Office: 47 Fondren Science**

**Lab: 16 Fondren Science**

Welcome to PHYS 3340. There are many physics phenomena that are not
readily amenable to understanding by analytical means. Sometimes the
equations are just too difficult to solve by paper and
pencil. Sometimes the phenomena are even difficult to probe directly
experimentally because of the requisite cost and time and overall
complexity. In these situations, using the computer to solve, even
approximately, the mathematical equations or to mimic the physical
phenomena is our only path forward to understanding. This course will
introduce you to computer-based techniques that allow you to "solve
physics problems" when conventional math and/or laboratory techniques
are impracticable.

Understanding occurs through sustained and intelligent effort. There
is simply no substitute for **doing.** Watching is fine
for the movies but not for learning how to use the computer to solve
physics problems. Correspondingly, I will ask you to do a large volume
of work and to invest a substantial chunk of time in this course. It
is important that you seek help from me (or the TA) if you do not
understand sopmething after giving it a decent mental effort. *Do not
suffer in silence.* I am here to help. You cannot ask too many
questions.
Graded homework will typically be issued weekly. I encourage you to
work together on the problems since discussion aids comprehension and
you can learn much from your fellow students. However, the final
solutions must be your own work. Submitted homework assignments that
are suspiciously similar will annoy me.

Your final grade will be based on a weighted sum (see below for
weights) of your performance on weekly homework and longer term
tasks. Individual assignments do not receive a letter grade.

- Weekly homework 70%
- Quizzes 5%
- Longer term project(s) 25%

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