PHY 411: Classical Mechanics & Chaotic Dynamics

(Fall 2023)

Lecture notes, Problems, etc..

Instructor: Alice Quillen, Bausch and Lomb Hall 424, Phone:275-9625, Email:alice.quillen at
There is no TA, TI or grader.
Lectures: MW 2:00-3:15pm in Gavett 310
Note: First lecture is Wednesday Aug 30 2023 at 2:00pm; we will have an organizational meeting!

Overview: Topics covered will include: Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi equations, chaotic dynamics, periodic orbits, stable and unstable orbits, resonances in celestial mechanics, resonance capture, resonance overlap criterion, bifurcations, Julia and Fatou sets, convergence of Newton's Iteration, KAM theory, non-holonomic mechanics, discrete dynamical systems, infinite dimensional Hamiltonian models, classical field theory. Quantum ergodicity and Quantum chaos. Wigner/Weyl transformations and ways to quantize classical systems. The quantized rotor kicked rotor. We will explore these topics analytically and possibly numerically (in python).

Prerequisite: A good knowledge of classical mechanics. PHY235 is more than enough. Undergraduates are very welcome to join this class (including for the entire class not just the first 8 weeks).

Course requirements: Grading: problem sets 60%, projects 40%, no exams.

Lecture notes and problem sets will be posted on this website, not on blackboard.
Collaboration is encouraged. However, you should write your own solutions to problems and write your own reports.

Reading material:
I will be sharing research papers and chapters of some books electronically. The link for these is available on blackboard. If you are auditing or are not yet enrolled in the class, send me an email and I will share the link.
I will be happy to share literature with the class that students find interesting!