Introduction to Computers in Physics
Most recent class announcement:
08-Dec-2006. Solutions to a11 are now posted.
PHYS 3730 and 6720 meet jointly. Brief introduction to computing tools for
science and engineering work on modern workstations. Topics include
Unix (file structures, commands, scripts, etc.), editing (especially
with emacs), spreadsheets, technical document preparation (LaTeX,
Postscript), symbolic manipulation (Maple), use of library routines
(LAPACK), Programming in C++, and organizing large codes with
makefiles. These tools will be illustrated by applying them to
scientific and engineering problems. (4 credits)
There is no required textbook for this course, however, students may find
some references to be useful. Please note
that extensive resources exist on-line and on
the web, as will be discussed in lecture.
Note: The two courses, PHYCS 3730 and PHYCS 6720, meet together. The
material to be covered in both courses, as described in the University
of Utah Course Catalog, is virtually the same. However, there are
substantial differences between the two courses in terms of grading
scale and expected quality of work. Separate grading curves are
maintained (historically, there is a full grade-point differential in
the curves), and PHYCS 6720 students are expected to produce a class
project of significantly greater depth than PHYCS 3730 students. In
the webpages associated with this course, the name "p6720" refers to
both courses, unless otherise specified.
- Important dates.
The last day to register for classes is Tuesday, 7 September.
The final day to drop (delete) classes with no tuition penalties is
Friday, 1 September. The last day to withdraw
is Friday, 20 October (see
University policies below
below for details).
Weekly homework assignments will constitute 70% of the students'
grades. A midterm (10%), and
a final exam (20%) will constitute the remaining portion of the grades.
The class project for PHYS 6720 students will consist of a research
paper, in a format suitable for submission to a journal or the Los
Alamos physics archive and will be
equivalent to THREE homework assignments, and total homework scores will be
- In-class exercises.
An additional component of the course will be in-class "lab"
exercises, consisting of short on-line problems which highlight the
material presented in lecture. These exercises are to be done
immediately after the lecture in (the South Physics Computer Lab (Rm
205). No grade will be assigned for these exercises, nonetheless, they
will be related to the homework assignments and students are
strongly urged to try them.
The overall flow of the course starts from an introduction to unix and
the basics of working in the unix environment. These include handling
files, editing, plotting, printing and document preparation. Next we
will discuss programming languages and techniques with focus on
scientific problems. Finally we will consider the use of math library
packages, including "canned" software to be integrated into user
applications and symbolic manipulations using Maple.
Along the way we will encounter some numerical topics, including
integration, statistical analysis and data modeling, solution of
ordinary and partial differential equations, and spectral methods
(Fourier transforms and wavelets).
The material presented in this course is a series of tools begging
for applications, examples of which will be provided as homework
assignments and lab exercises. Students are encouraged to suggest
particular topics or problems which would be of interest.
All students will be given accounts on Department of
Physics computers for doing the homework assignments, class
project, and final exam.
Most, if not all, of the homework will be done online.
You will be instructed as to how to submit any electronic files
During the course you may have questions about homework or other
aspects about the course. Please feel free to contact us.
Students are also encouraged to work together on homework assignments.
However, all submitted work must be original. You will be instructed
as to how to ensure that no one is electronically "peeking over
your shoulder" at your own work. All of your files related to this
course must be protected so that no one else but you has access
to them but you.
Please pay attention to the announcements
page for messages regarding homework updates,
class schedules, etc. Once a class roster is in place, all announcements
will also be emailed directly to the students.
Other details about the course can be found and/or inferred from
the following links:
Assignments: Links to individual weekly assignments, including
instructions for submitting homework electronically.
University Policy and Regulations.
Students may drop any class without penalty or permission through the
first nine calendar days of the term. The last day to drop a semester
length class is Friday September 1, 2006. Students may withdraw from a
course or the University beginning on the tenth calendar day and
continuing through Friday September 20, 2006 (permission may be needed and
fees may apply). If you are receiving any form of financial aid,
notify the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. If you are receiving
any form of financial aid, notify the Financial Aid and Scholarship
Office. A “W” will be recorder on the academic record and
applicable tuition and fees will be assessed for each course. Friday
September 20, 2006 is the final day that a student may withdraw from a
course or the University of Utah. Students taking regular term
courses may appeal the deadline for withdrawal in cases of compelling,
nonacademic emergencies by submitting a petition and supporting
documentation to the office of the dean of their major
college. Undeclared, nonmatriculated and pre-major students apply to
the University College, 450 Student Services Building.
Students with Disabilities. The University of Utah seeks to
provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for
people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this
class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the instructor and
the Center for Disabled Student Services – 581-5020 (Voice or
TDD), to make arrangements for accommodations.
Nondiscrimination. Discrimination is defined at the University
of Utah as less than favorable treatment based on race, color,
religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability or
status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam Era Veteran. Sexual Harassment
is also a form of discrimination. The University of Utah expects
members to treat one another with respect. Any behavior that results
in sexual abuse, harassment, or intimidation of another person, or any
unwanted objectionable sexual attention towards another person is
considered to be sexual harassment and will not be tolerated. As a
student of the University of Utah, you are entitled to participate in
University programs and activities free of sexual harassment and other
forms of discrimination.
University of Utah Student Code. The Student Code is spelled
out in the Student Handbook. Students have specific rights in the
classroom as detailed in Article III of the code. The code also
specifies proscribed conduct (Article XI) that involves cheating on
tests, plagiarism, and/or collusion, as well as fraud, theft,
etc. Students should read the Code carefully to become aware of these
issues. Students will receive sanctions for violating one or more of
these proscriptions. The faculty will enforce the code. Students have
the right to appeal such action to the Student Behavior Committee.
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Last updated: Fri Dec 8 13:04:46 MST 2006