 THEMATIC GOALS
 To become acquainted with the use of modern computer
technology to formulate and solve problems from physics (and related
fields) computationally. This will generally involve:
 Identifying or isolating a specific problem that
requires solution.
 Formulating the problem in mathematical terms, as
precisely as possible.
 Identifying appropriate approximations, algorithms,
existing software etc. that will allow you to solve the problem.
 Implementing the solution process on the computer,
using programming (scripting etc.) in one or more computer languages as
necessary.
 Performing the calculations on the computer using
your
implementation.
 Analyzing and
interpreting
the results of the calculations.
 Possible iteration of one or more of the above steps
in
view of the results and analysis.
 To become familiar with basictointermediate techniques
in computer programming that will be of use in solving problems from
physics and related fields.
 To be exposed to selected topics in physics and
mathematics that are representative of some typical application areas
in "real world" computational physics: some of this material may
already be familiar to you.
 To gain experience in searching for, and finding,
information on specific topics/areas; in understanding that
information, and then applying it (i.e. research and selfinstruction!)
 To gain experience in presenting the results of
scientific work, and in writing up the results of that work in the form
of a scientific paper
 SPECIFIC GOALS
Successful completion of this coursewhich includes understanding the
lecture material, completing the homeworks with a reasonable degree of
proficiency, and presenting and submitting a good term projectshould
provide you with the ability to do the following:
 Work comfortably within a Unix / Linux environment with
an emphasis on the use of the commandline.
 Write basic Unix / Linux scripts (programming) to
automate tasks, extend the functionality of existing commands, or
create entirely new commands.
 Use Maple to interactively perform basic symbolic
manipulation and numerical computations.
 Write simple Maple procedures (programming) as part of
an introduction to the use of Maple as a powerful computing environment.
 Perform basic to intermediate level numerical
computations
using MATLAB interactively.
 Use MATLAB's plotting facilities for viewing, analyzing
and understanding data.
 Write basic to intermediate level MATLAB scripts and
functions (programming)
 Use your MATLAB programming skills to address specific
applications from physics and mathematics including
 The use of finite difference techniques to
approximate simple ordinary differential equations (equations of
motion), of the type encountered in particle dynamics.
 Dynamics of one or more particles in interaction with
one another or with an external potential.
 Simulation of simple cellular automata
 Basic data analysis
 Solution of linear equations, numerical integration
and solution of nonlinear equations
 Processes with a random or stochastic element such as
random walks and diffusion limited aggregation
 A moderately challenging problem of your own
choosingi.e. your term project!
Note that in the above (as well as the course outline below),
references to MATLAB generally imply "MATLAB
and/or one of the available opensource MATLAB "clones", such as octave
or scilab). In addition, although we will be using MATLAB and/or the
"clones" as the primary programming language in this course, the
programming techniques that you acquire and the algorithms that you
encounter should be transferable to essentially any general purpose
programming language including C/C++, Java, Python, Fortran etc. etc.
