PHY102 - Physics Computations I
Maintained by Simon
All course materials, worksheets and solutions will be posted here
Course grade for spring 01
is a table showing which worksheets we have received from you and which
are missing. This also shows what grade you will be receiving from
the course portion of the class (see syllabus below for how this was calculated).
If there are any mistakes or if you have any questions,
please contact Prof Billinge (preferrably by email)
as soon as possible.
Prof Simon Billinge- Rm 6PA, 353-8697, firstname.lastname@example.org
Valeri Petkov - email@example.com
Dave Oostdyk - firstname.lastname@example.org
Physicists use mathematics as a tool to model the universe. Think
of computers as our power-tools. This course, and the two subsequent
one credit classes in physics computations (PHY102, PHY201,
are designed to teach you how to use these tools effectively and safely.
These power-tools allow us to study problems which are not tractable
using analytic mathematics (the usual kind). As with all power-tools,
they can also be used as labor saving devices to help solve problems that
do have analytic solutions (i.e., homework problems!). This course
(PHY102) concentrates on the use of Mathematica. Mathematica solves
mathematical problems and it includes a versatile graphical interface which
allows you to visualize the solutions as well. Mathematica can find
solutions to algebraic equations, it can do calculus and it can evaluate
equations numerically. It is a very powerful and useful general purpose
During PHY102 you will apply Mathematica to physics problems drawn from
material covered in PHY183 and/or PHY193H, sometimes even during the same
week of class. In addition to the algebraically solvable problems typically
assigned in courses, you will also solve more complex problems numerically.
Examples include the non-linear pendulum, motion in a gravitational field
and chaos in simple maps. A weekly worksheet forms the core of the course.
You should set aside at least 2 hours per week to work through the worksheet.
You are required to attend one lab session per week in Room 346, Giltner
Hall, that will be staffed by a TA. Normally the completed worksheets
will be handed in at the end of this session. Worksheets not completed
in class will be accepted up until 5pm on the Monday following the week
when the worksheet was assigned. Printed copies of the worksheet
should be left in Prof. Billinge's mailbox or delivered to his office.
Under special circumstances an extension can be granted if arrangements
are made with Prof. Billinge BEFORE the deadline passes. Situations
like these will be handled on a case by case basis but worksheets won't
be accepted after the deadline if you have not obtained prior permission.
Remember, your course grade-point drops by 0.5 for each worksheet not completed
and handed in on time (see below)! Beyond the worksheets, there will
be no homework assignments for the course.
Lab sessions will be arranged to fit your schedules in the first week
of classes. Please contact Prof. Billinge if you have any questions.
Lab. Schedule - Room 346 Giltner Hall
Tuesdays 9-11 am, instructor Valeri Petkov (email@example.com)
Jason Felton, Alex Hawley, Bridgette Jackson, Beth Purdue, Peter Redl
Tuesdays 6-9 pm, Instructor Dave Oostdyk (Oostdyk@pa.msu.edu)
Dustin Baker, Erin Henderson, Matt Nemeth, Joseph Paul, Richard Perez,
Mark Rathwell, Greg Sliwka,Kelly Wronkowicz
Thursdays 1:30-4:30, Instructor Simon Billinge (Billinge@pa.msu.edu)
Charles Armstrong, Leslie Boker, Laura Chapin, Matthew Gibbons, Joshua
Hubbell, Robert Quigley
You should set aside at least 2 hours per week to work through the weekly
75% of the course grade will come from your attendance at the labs and
solution to the weekly worksheets. For each worksheet which is not completed
and handed in on time your grade is reduced by 0.5. If you complete all
the worksheets and attend all the labs you get a 3.0 grade. Missed
labs without a valid reason will result in a warning followed by a reduction
in grade of 0.5 for each subsequent missed lab.
25% of the course grade will come from a one hour practical exam at the
end of the semester. This exam will be held in the last week of semester
during your regular lab time. In the exam you will be asked to perform
mathematica functions you have used in the worksheets during the semester.
Nothing new will be introduced. You will need to know how to use the online
The lab. exam is intended to test how well you know mathematica. If you
know the basic commands well and work efficiently, you will finish in the
allocated 1 hr. That is, it is a timed test. You will be given a test exam
as worksheet 12 which will be similar to the final exam. The test exam
grading procedure is as follows (these are added to your worksheets' grade):
Less than two questions complete -> 0.0
Between two and four questions complete -> 0.5
Four or more questions complete -> 1.0
The lab. exam will be scheduled during your usual assigned lab slot.
Worksheet 1, week of Jan 15th, due Jan 22nd (postscript)
Worksheet 2, week of Jan 22nd, due Jan 29th (postscript),
Worksheet 3, week of Jan 29th, due Feb 5th (postscript),
Worksheet 4, week of Feb 5th due Feb 12th (postscript),
Worksheet 5, week of Feb 12th, due Feb 19th (postscript),
Worksheet 6, week of Feb 19th, due Feb 26th (postscript),
Worksheet 7, week of Feb 26th, due Mar 12th (postscript),
March 5th - 9th Spring Break!
March 12-16th Computer Labs Cancelled!
Worksheet 8, week of Mar 19th, due Mar 26th (postscript),
Worksheet 9, week of Mar 26th, due April 2nd (postscript),
Worksheet 10, week of April 2nd, due April 9th (postscript),
Worksheet 11, week of April 9th, due April 16th (postscript),
Worksheet 12, week of April 16th, Mock
Exam, solutions (postscript)
Exam week of April 23rd
There is no required text.
Recommended text: The Mathematica Book, third edition, by Stephen Wolfram
(Cambridge). This is a very comprehensive book written by the author/inventor
of Mathematica. It is primarily a reference book. It is available
in its entirety and is included in electronic form as part of the extensive
online help in the Mathematica program itself so there is not really any
need to buy it.
Recommended text: There are various Mathematica books written by scientists
and engineers which are not so pedagogical and more focussed on how Mathematica
can be used to solve science problems. One example is Mathematica
for Scientists and Engineers by Richard Gass (Prentice Hall).
Another is Mathematica for Physics by Robert L. Zimmerman and Fredrick
I. Olness (Addison-Wesley). There are numerous other ones.
Mostly they come with floppy discs or CD's containing examples so you don't
have to type them in by hand.
Helpfiles for PHY102
Mathematica has an awesomely powerful (and therefore non-trivial to use)
online help built in. Part of the course will be to learn how to
use this help effectively and you are encouraged and expected to use the
help whenever and wherever possible so you get comfortable and quick at
using it. This may prove to be important in the timed exam and will
pay big dividends as you use Mathematica later.
Getting started with Linux: Linux is the operating system on these
computers. For those of you who haven't heard of it it is a free
operating system for PCs that was developed first by Linus Torvalds, a
Finnish student (not much else to do in the winter up there than write
new operating systems), then by an international community of free software
freaks. It can be downloaded for free from the internet and there
is a lot of free software being developed by people all over the world.
Check out www.linux.org and www.gnu.org
to get a taste of what it is all about. It is basically a form of UNIX
for PCs. If you are not familiar with unix then the "Introduction
to Linux Computing in rm346 Giltner Hall" might help. Modern
versions of linux look a lot like Microsoft windows which means that it
is easier to get started with unix/linux these days.
Starting mathematica: (a) in a terminal window (click on the "screen" icon
at the bottom of the screen to get a terminal window) type "mathematica"
and hit return (b) using the mouse, click on the "foot" at the bottom of
the screen then holding the mouse button down slide the mouse to select
"programs" -> "applications" -> "wolfram mathematica"
Started: This is a Mathematica "notebook" with information about basic
Mathematica usage and some pitfalls to avoid. Download the file and save
it locally. Start Mathematica then load this notebook by mouse-clicking
on file->open. This notebook contains useful hints and examples of
common mistakes of first-time Mathematica users. The most common
mistakes are tiny tiny syntax errors that cause the program to go crazy.
Some syntax errors result in errors so you know there is a problem.
Others do not result in errors but the program calculates some meaningless
or incorrect expression and proudly presents you with lots of garbage on
the screen. Another thing that can trip you up is that Mathematica
has a very long memory. If you define a variable (e.g., y=Sin[x])
Mathematica will remember forever, or until you explicitly redefine or
clear the definition, that y is sin(x). If, half an hour later, you
use "x" in some other context it can lead to some very interesting, unexpected
and perplexing results. The "getting started" notebook tells how
to deal with this. You will save yourself a lot of time in the long
run by going through it.
Also try Introduction to Mathematica
(Written by Ellen Lau)
You will find that 346 Giltner is open at other times than those listed
above. In general, as long as the room is open you are welcome to
go in and use the computers for your PHY102 classwork but remember that
other classes use the lab and outside of our regular lab-times you are
a guest. If another instructor needs the computer or is lecturing
you may be asked to leave. Needless to say these computers are subject
to the Physics Department and the University acceptable use policies:
Please call (353-8697) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
me for an appointment or just drop by my office.
I will also be available to answer questions and help out Thursdays
8-11 am. Try
to find me in 346 Giltner first, and failing that my office.