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PHYS 309-010: Mathematical Physics

Spring 2018 Syllabus

Dr. Jeffrey W. Emmert Office Hours:
Office: HS 305H MoFr 11:00 am - noon
Email: MoWeFr 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Phone: 410-677-5415 (or by appointment)

GREETINGS and welcome to Mathematical Physics! This course is a survey of some of the most important
mathematical tools of classical physics, and an examination of how these tools can be applied to problems you
may encounter in future coursework. Topics will include infinite series, complex algebra, linear algebra,
coordinate systems, vector algebra, vector calculus, and differential equations. While mathematical rigor is
important in its own right, my emphasis will be less on proofs and justifying the techniques than on developing
familiarity with how to apply the material. You will gain hands-on experience with Mathematica, a popular
computer algebra system (CAS). This software will complement our examination of the subject matter by aiding
in computation and visualization. The prerequisite for this course is PHYS 225 (Physics III); the pre/co-requisites
for the course are PHYS 223 (Physics II) and MATH 310 (Calculus III).

The GOAL of this course is for you to develop an introductory familiarity with certain techniques of
mathematics, beyond the calculus encountered in early math coursework, that are commonly used to solve
problems in various fields of physics. An understanding of these methods will provide you with the background
necessary to continue on to higher level courses in the physical sciences.

SUCCESS in this course requires a significant time commitment on your part. This is a three-credit course, and
you should plan on spending at least the standard six hours per week outside of class reading and thinking
about the material, solving problems, and using Mathematica. Make use of web-based resources, course
documents provided on MyClasses, and the university library. Take advantage of office hours, even if it’s just
to stop by and say hello. You are the primary agent of your learning! Learning is a biological process, and only
the owner of your brain (i.e., you, not I) can make the necessary neural connections. In particular, your active
participation before, during, and after each lecture is critical.
• Before Lecture: Your first exposure to most material will be from reading the textbook prior to lecture.
Read to understand, not merely to cover material or memorize facts. Several readings of the text will
almost certainly be necessary. The textbook provides a background for lecture, presents detailed
explanations of concepts, and makes an excellent reference.
• During Lecture: Lecture will not be mere repetition of what you have read. (There simply isn’t time!)
Instead, I will try to explain confusing issues, work example problems, and urge you to think critically.
Lecture will be most effective if you actively participate. Only a partnership between you and me will
fulfill the objectives of this course. If you become lost or confused, please stop me and ask for
clarification. I rely upon your questions about the material as well as your answers to my questions in
order to teach effectively. Please don’t be bashful in class!
• After Lecture: In order to learn physics or mathematics, you must think about and interact with the
course material. Nobody learns physics or mathematics by simply reading about it or listening to
someone talk about it. You learn it by making the effort to understand the material, building mental
models, and solving problems using the principles learned. Follow up on lecture by working relevant
problems from the textbook. Some of these have answers in the back of the book.

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• Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd edition (9780471198260) by M.L. Boas
• Scientific calculator – see below


• MyClasses: Your class scores will periodically be updated on the MyClasses course page. If you notice
an incorrect score, please notify me immediately. The MyClasses course page also links to important
documents such as the syllabus, a continually updated class calendar, written assignments, and study
resources. MyClasses can be accessed from the main page of the Salisbury University website.
• Email: I may occasionally communicate important announcements via campus email, which can be
accessed from the main page of the Salisbury University website. Please check your email account daily
throughout the semester.

• Academic Integrity: The physics department adheres to the policy of academic integrity included in
Salisbury University’s Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog and outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
Any type of academic misconduct will result in severe penalty, including the possibility of a failing grade
in the course. An Academic Misconduct Incident Report will be filed with the Office of Academic Affairs
for all incidents, as required by university policy.
• Attendance: You are expected to come to class on time, prepared to ask and answer questions and
actively participate. You are responsible for all material covered and announcements made in class. In
the event of an absence, you should obtain this information from fellow students. Unless there is an
exam scheduled, there is no need to notify me regarding an absence. Please do not come to class
within 24 hours of having a fever!
• Calculators: Bring a scientific calculator to every class. Only non-programmable calculators without
computer algebra systems and inter-calculator communication capabilities may be used on quizzes and
exams. A cell phone may not be used for a calculator, and calculators may not be shared.
• Class Behavior: Please maintain yourself during class in a mature, courteous manner that promotes
the learning process. To assist in this, turn off cell phones, put away headphones and earbuds, refrain
from engaging in extraneous conversations, and avoid distracting or disturbing your classmates.
Violators will be asked to stop or leave the room. Such behavior will affect your final grade.
• Copyright: The lectures that I deliver in this class and the course materials I create and distribute are
protected by federal copyright law as my original works. You are permitted to take notes of lectures
and to use course materials for your personal use in this course. You may not record my lectures
without my express consent, and you may not publicly display or distribute or allow anyone else to
publicly display or distribute my lecture notes or course materials without my written permission.
• Inclement Weather: In case of inclement weather, call the Gull Line at 410-546-6426 for weather
related closing information, or check the Salisbury University website.
• Students with Disabilities: If you require an accommodation in this course based on the impact of a
disability, please inform me during the first week of class.
• Writing Requirement: You are expected to demonstrate proficiency in “writing across the curriculum”
by writing logically, legibly, and lucidly.

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• Exams: There will be two midterm exams administered in lecture as well as a comprehensive final
exam. If you suspect that you will miss an exam, contact me beforehand to make necessary arrange-
ments. In extreme, unexpected circumstances (e.g., death in the family, severe illness verified by a
physician), if notice is given prior to the beginning of an exam, I may at my discretion allow you to make
up one (and only one) missed exam.
• Assignments and Quizzes: A variety of assignments and quizzes will be given throughout the semester.
I encourage you to collaborate with others in developing homework solutions. Please discuss the
material and help each other learn the concepts. However, you may turn in only the results of your
own efforts – not group solutions, and certainly not solutions directly borrowed from someone else.
Subsequent to any collaboration, the written homework solutions that you submit for grading must be
developed entirely on your own. For instance, if you develop a solution through collaboration or with
help from a website, you must put it aside and write your own solution without referring to it. Violation
of these rules concerning assignments will be considered academic misconduct. Assignments and
quizzes will not be weighted equally, but their relative values will be indicated by the number of points
they are worth. Written assignments are due in class at the beginning of class. No late submissions of
homework will be accepted, nor will make-up quizzes be provided. If you suspect that you will miss a
lecture in which an assignment is due, submit your work early or have someone else submit it for you
in class. Of your assignments and quizzes, the two lowest scores are excluded in calculating your overall
• Grade Calculation: Your grade will be determined based on the following percentages:
- Two midterm exams (2 x 25%) 50%
- Final Exam 25%
- Assignments and quizzes 25%
Total = 100%
• Grade Scale: Letter grades will be assigned based on the following scale applied to the total percentage
earned in the course:
90 – 100% = A Superior work; demonstrates a thorough understanding of the subject
80 – 90¯ % = B Excellent work; demonstrates an above average understanding of the subject
70 – 80¯ % = C Good work; demonstrates an average understanding of the subject
60 – 70¯ % = D Fair work; demonstrates a below average understanding of the subject and/or may
not have completed a few assignments
00 – 60¯ % = F Unsatisfactory work; does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of the
subject and/or may not have completed several assignments
At my discretion, I may lower one or more of the letter grade limits after the final exam. Apply your
energies toward earning an acceptable grade from the beginning of the semester, and if you experience
difficulties, seek help immediately!

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Tentative Lecture Schedule
Spring 2018

Week Of Lecture Topics Sections

29 January Introduction and Review, Sequences and Series 1.1-1.4

Testing Series for Convergence,
5 February 1.5-1.15
Power Series, Taylor Series, Applications of Series
12 February Complex Algebra 2.1-2.5

19 February Complex Series 2.6-2.9

26 February Functions of Complex Numbers 2.10-2.13

Midterm Exam 1 (ch. 1-2)
5 March 3.1-3.4
Matrices, Systems of Linear Equations, Vectors
12 March Matrix Operations, Special Matrices, Linear Transformations 3.6, 3.9, 3.7

19 March (Spring Break) -

26 March Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors, Diagonalizing Matrices 3.11

2 April Linear Dependence and Independence, Vector Spaces 3.8, 3.10

9 April Orthonormal Bases, Gram-Schmidt Method, Dirac Notation 3.14, 12.6

Midterm Exam 2 (ch. 3)
16 April 5.1-5.2
Multiple Integrals
23 April Applications of Multiple Integrals, Coordinate Systems 5.3-5.4

30 April Dirac Delta Function, Fields and Potentials, Gradient 6.5-6.6

7 May Divergence, Curl, Laplacian, Line Integrals 6.7-6.8

14 May Divergence Theorem, Stokes’ Theorem 6.10-6.11

Comprehensive Final Exam

Thursday, 17 May 10:45 am - 1:15 pm (HS 360)

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