PHYS 3345 Overview

Spring 1999

Last edit: 24 Dec 1998

Prof. Thomas Coan (x8-2497)
Office: 4B Fondren Science


Welcome to PHYS 3345. This course requires you to work, consistently and efficiently. You will not learn the material without substantial intellectual effort on your part. I can teach (almost) anyone willing to make an honest effort. I cannot teach tourists. So, when you read the texts, read with a pencil and paper nearby. Read the course material before lecture. Think about the physics a little bit each day, not just when I am lecturing. I often hear students say, "I understand what you say in lecture but I just don't get the problems." Translated, this means that the student does not understand what was covered in lecture. If you cannot do the problems, you do not understand the material.

Intellectually, PHYS 3345 has two major goals. The first goal is to finish our task of learning a substantial subset of classical mechanics. We will learn about the behavior of coupled oscillators, the properties of continuous systems, special relativity and a substantial amount of wave phenomena.

The second goal of PHYS 3345 is for you to learn some practical mathematical techniques useful for understanding physics related phenomena, including those that you are likely to see in other courses and in a technical career after graduation. Math topics we will cover include matrix manipulation and elementary linear algebra, methods for solving differential equations and an introduction to Fourier analysis. We may cover other topics, depending on my mood.

Tests, Exams and Grades

Homework will be issued weekly and is graded. I encourage you to work together on the problems. Ideas are often clarified and misconceptions eliminated when you discuss the material with similarly confused people and are forced to defend your reasoning. Indeed, in the "real" world, people discuss technical matters quite a bit. However, the final write-up of the homework must be your own work. Submitted homework assignments that are suspiciously similar will annoy me and plagiarism will be dealt with harshly. There will be 3 regular tests as well as a comprehensive final exam. See the PHYS 3345 home page for more details. Finally, I will issue short, unannounced quizzes to test your diligence in reading the course material on a random basis. You have been warned.

Your final letter grade will be based on a weighted sum of your performance on homework, tests, quizzes and the final exam according to the following proportions:

This relative weighting is my attempt to gauge your mastery of the material using a variety of "probes" that have different features. Demonstrated effort counts in determining your final grade. Demonstrated effort means, for example, that homework solutions are legibly and coherently written. Scribbled or sloppily written homework indicates a distinct lack of effort and no partial credit should be expected by the student. My test and exam problem regrading policy is straightforward. If you suspect that your solution to a particular problem is correct and mine is incorrect, then this implies the grading quality of your entire test or exam is suspect. I will therefore regrade the entire test or exam to verify that I have not made additional errors. Hence, your final score may increase or decrease!

In summary, the motto for this course is, "If you can't show it, you don't know it."

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