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.