# PHYS 5382 Overview

## Fall 2002

`Last edit: 29 July 2002`

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

**Office: 4B Fondren Science**

### Introduction

Welcome to PHYS 5382, quantum mechanics. This
course, and its spring successor 5383, may be the most intellectually
stimulating and demanding of your undergraduate career. Quantum
mechanics is humanity's most sophisticated and successful theory of
how the physical universe behaves. Acquiring a non-trivial
understanding of the theory is a significant cultural achievement and
something you should take pride in. Quantum mechanics is difficult to
learn because, aside from its own technical jargon and mathematical
formalism, it requires you to develop a new kind of
physical intuition. We are very used to the classical world of
accelerations, collisions and parabolic trajectories. We see these
effects in our daily life. But quantum mechanics deals with phenomena
very far removed from daily experience, and so the physical intuition
we have developed in the course of our daily lives is not
necessarily useful in trying to understand the quantum behavior of
the universe. This failing of our mundane intuition will typically lead
to some frustration when you try to understand "what is really going
on" with quantum mechanics and when you try to solve the homework
problems. You should not be overly concerned with this frustration. If
you apply yourself, you will slowly find that quantum mechanics is
indeed intelligible, if still somewhat mysterious.

### Homework, Tests, Exams and Grades

You have to break a serious sweat to learn quantum mechanics. Homework
is issued weekly and is graded. **I encourage you to work together on
the problems. However, the final write-up must be your own
work.** Submitted homework assignments that are suspiciously similar
will annoy me. There will be 3 regular tests as well as a final exam.
See the
PHYS 5382 syllabus for details.
Your final grade will be based on a weighted sum of your performance
on homework, tests and the final exam. Individual assignments do not
receive a letter grade. You should see me personally to know how you
are doing in the course. **A stellar performance on the final exam
can result in a course grade much better then the average course
performance would yield.** The relative course component weights
used to determine the course grade are:

- Homework 40%
- Tests 30%
- Final 30%

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