PHYS 370: Computational Methods in Physics

Prerequisites: PHYS 305, 306, and 308, or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

The goal of this class is to familiarize students with multiple methods of tackling
problems in physics. Students will learn to use a variety of tools from spreadsheets
(Excel or similar) to commercial math programs (Matlab or similar) to writing their
own programs (Fortran/C and Visual Python or similar).

**Note(s):** Applied Learning designated course.

Detailed Description of Course

As noted above, students will learn to solve complex problems in physics using various
numerical techniques. Some example problems that will be solved are realistic (including
air resistance, spin, and lift) projectile motion, temperature diffusion throughout
a material, complex gravitational forces involving 3 or more bodies, Monte Carlo methods
of integration, frequency analysis of sound, and data fitting. To solve these problems,
students will learn to utilize a variety of calculation techniques while also becoming
familiar with the commonly used computational tools used in research and industry.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course itself will consist of regular short lectures. The remaining vast majority
of the time will be spent by the students doing hands-on calculations and programming.

Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

The objectives for this course are that students will upon completion of the course
be able to:

• use a spreadsheet to solve problems involving complex trajectories, temperature
variations in a material with arbitrary heat sources, and advanced mechanics;

• use Matlab or other commercial math programs to solve problems involving complex
gravitational systems, quantum mechanical systems, and optics; and

• write and compile code in C/Fortran/Visual Python or similar tools that can solve
problems in physics using various common methods such as Runge-Kutta integration,
Monte Carlo methods.

Assessment Measures

Students will turn in weekly assignments assessing their ability to solve problems
numerically utilizing a variety of techniques. Students will also have a larger final
project in which they will synthesize what they’ve learned to solve a more complex
problem. The student will then present their work during the final exam period to
the class.

Other Course Information

None

Review and Approval

Revised 2012

March 01, 2021