Computational PhysicsCourse Description
The use of computers in physics, as well as most other branches of science and engineering, has increasedmany times along with the rapid development of faster and cheaper hardware. This course aims to give thestudent a thorough grounding in the main computational techniques used in modern physics. It is particu-larly important in this course that the students should
learn by doing.
The course is therefore designed suchthat a signiﬁcant fraction of the students’ time is spent actually programming speciﬁc physical problemsrather than learning abstract techniques.The course will cover problems in 5 broad sections:
Ordinary differential equations, such as those of classical mechanics.
Partial differential equations, such as Maxwell’s equations and the Diffusion and Schr¨odinger equa-tions.
Matrix methods, such as systems of equations and eigenvalue problems applied to Poisson’s equationand electronic structure calculations.
Monte Carlo and other simulation methods, such as the Metropolis algorithm and molecular dynam-ics.
totheusesandabusesofalgebraiccomputingin physics.This is
a short course in computing science, nor in programming. It focuses speciﬁcally on methodsfor solving physics problems. Students will be expected to be familiar with basic programming: successfulcompletion of the 1st year computing Lab. is sufﬁcient. There is no requirement that the practical work bedone using Microsoft C++ on the departmental computers, but anyone wishing to use some other program-ming language or computer should consult the lecturer beforehand. This is to make sure there is both helpavailable from demonstrators and that it will be possible to assess the work satisfactorily.For most weeks of the term there will be 2 timetabled sessions in the computing Lab., room 319, onTuesday afternoons, with a lecture at 9.00am on Thursdays in the lecture theatre, LT3. From 2.00pm to5.00pm on Tuesdays there will be demonstrators available in the Lab. During this period the Lab. facilitieswill be reserved for those taking part in this course.On the 10th October and again on the 17th there will be a Lecture at 2.00pm and the Lab session willstart at 3.00pm.Each of the 5 sections of the course will be accompanied by a short problem sheet including practicalexercises and longer projects.Students will be expected to do the ﬁrst project and 2 of the others.During this session we will be experimenting with electronic submission of programs. This will en-able the assessors to check and run your program if necessary. The program(s) and any output ﬁles,which would appear as appendices in the report should still be included in your report but, in addition,should be sent as plain text e-mail attachment(s)
Computational-Physics, A. MacKinnon
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