PHY 256: Computational Physics

(Spring 2021)



Additional handouts

Instructor: Alice Quillen, Bausch and Lomb Hall 424.
There is no TI or TA for this class.
Email:aquillen x*x
Course materials are usually posted on the website.

MW 2:00-3:15pm (EST). We begin the semester entirely on zoom. As of Feb 24, we are scheduled in Dewey Hall 2/162 (which can fit the class!). Starting Monday March 18 we will transition to a hybrid system with in-person lectures in Dewey Hall on Mondays and remote lectures on Wednesdays,
Lectures will also be live (on zoom), and they will be recorded and then posted on you-tube. You can find links in the lecture notes section of this website.

Office hours: None officially. However the instructor tends to be available from 9-5 on weekdays. She will be pleased when students offer to chat and is happy to help debug code. If you want to be sure that the instructor is available please propose some convenient times (for you) via email.

Our goal is to explore interesting and cool physics using computational techniques and with python. Emphasis will be placed on visualization to increase understanding in trendy topics rather than on surveying numerical methods, though numerical algorithms and accuracy will be explored as motivated by topic. We will also look at some novel numerical approaches because they are fun and interesting for their own sake.

Topics covered will include: Chaotic maps and dynamics, Simulation of the physics of simple robots and mechanical structures, Integration techniques, Monte Carlo simulations of phase transitions, Simulating dynamics of multiparticle systems, Finite differencing techniques for integrating continuum/fluid systems, Integration techniques for partial differential equations, Billiards, random walks and fractals, Synchronization models, Percolation and diffusion limited aggregation, Stochastic systems, Symbolic computation, Quantum information and quantum computing, and other topics.
This class is not focused on machine learning or data mining techniques.
This term I hope to expand our exploration of quantum computing and quantum information.

Calculus, basic linear algebra. Familiarity with introductory modern physics. Ability to get python with matplotlib and pylab (scipy) running somewhere on a computer or website. python 3. (and above) recommended as I am writing notebooks that will run in that version.

Course requirements: Where to turn things in: Assignments should be uploaded into blackboard.
Grading: Assignments 70%, Projects 30% (no exams)

Rules: You can talk about your assignments with your fellow students. You should write and run your own code, unless we are doing a collaborative project. Code longer than a few lines copied from sources on the internet should be identified. Solutions to problems should not be directly copied from other students. Collaborators should be identified on assignments.

References and resources:
There are a number of on-line resources for python and computational physics. We are not following a single textbook. Here are links to some of my favorite on-line resources.

Credit hour policy: This course follows the College credit hour policy for four-credit courses. This course meets twice weekly for 2.5 academic hours per week. The course includes weekly meetings outside of this regular class time. The course includes weekly independent out-of-class assignments.