PHY102 - Physics Computations I (Spring 2011)

Maintained by Jon Pumplin
All course materials and worksheets will be posted here


  • Prof. Jon Pumplin - BPS3240,, phone 884-5563

    Course Outline

    This is the first in a series of three one-credit classes in physics computations(PHY102, PHY201 , PHY301 ). The objective of these courses is to give students a sound knowledge of important computational techniques and tools used in physics. PHY102 concentrates on Mathematica --- a powerful general-purpose program to do algebraic and numerical calculations, graphics and animation for a variety of mathematics and physics problems.

    During PHY102 you will apply Mathematica to physics problems drawn from material covered in PHY183 and/or PHY193H. In addition to the algebraically solvable problems typically assigned in courses, you will also solve more complex problems numerically. Examples may include the non-linear pendulum, motion in a gravitational field and chaos in simple maps. A weekly worksheet forms the core of the course.

    (If you wish to cover more ground than is contained in the assignments, you may also try applying Mathematica to additional problems, such as problems that come up in your other course work. In addition, if you wish, you can complete the PHY102 assignments ahead of schedule; and when you are finished with all of them, work on the course content of PHY201 (fortran) or PHY301 (C++) --- discuss these options with the professor.)

    All of the work for Phy 102 will be done in the computer lab in room BPS 1240

    This computer lab will be open according to the following TENTATIVE schedule:
        Mon 1:50 - 2:40pm
        Tue 3:20 - 4:00pm
        Wed 12:40 - 5:00pm
        Thu 12:40 - 1:30pm
        Fri 1:50 - 2:40pm
    You can expect to spend approximately 2--3 hours per week, during those times, to complete the assignments. If additional time is needed, it will be possible to schedule some additional hours.
    Mathematica is also available at many(?) of the computer labs around campus, so you can use it there once you become proficient.

    Course Assessment

  • 75% will come from your solution to the weekly worksheets. For each worksheet that is not completed, your grade is reduced by 0.5. If you complete all of the worksheets you will get a minimum grade of 3.0.
  • 25% 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 help facility.

    Lab Exam

    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.

    Less than two questions completed: add 0.0
    Between two and four questions completed: add 0.5
    Four or more questions completed: add 1.0

    Worksheets for PHY102

    Sample notebook (save it as worksheet00.nb and open with Mathematica)
  • Worksheet 1 - Due 5pm Friday, January 21 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 2 - Due 5pm Friday, January 28 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 3 - Due 5pm Friday February 4 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 4 - Due 5pm Friday February 11 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 5 - Due 5pm Friday February 18 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 6 - Due 5pm Friday February 25 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 7 - Due 5pm Friday March 4 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 8 - Due 5pm Friday March 18 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 9 - Due 5pm Friday March 25 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 10 - Due 5pm Friday April 1 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 11 - Due 5pm Friday April 8 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 12 - Due 5pm Friday April 15 ( pdf )
  • Worksheet 13 - Due 5pm Friday April 22 ( pdf )

    Final lab exam Wed April 27th -- e-mail me if you would prefer to take the exam on Thurs or Fri instead.

    Help Files for PHY102

  • Introduction to Linux Computing in BPS1240.
  • Introduction to Mathematica (Written by Ellen Lau)
  • The Mathematica website is very useful. In particular there are variety of tutorials to get you started. In addition the entire Mathematica book is there.