Physics 2820: Computational Mechanics

2820 Computational Mechanics introduces computational methods in the context of Newtonian mechanics. Numerical differentiation and integration, numerical solutions to differential equations and data analysis are applied to projectile motion, N-body systems, oscillations and problems from geophysics. Implementation of numerical methods using computer programming is emphasized.

CO: Mathematics 2000
LH: 1.5
PR: Mathematics 2000 and PHYS 1051

The use of computers pervades all fields of science.

Physics 2820 introduces the student to the world of computational physics. From plotting functions and finding roots of algebraic equations, to solving a differential equation, to carrying out operations on sets of data to find relationships between measured variables, the skills learned will be useful anywhere computers are used to solve problems.

In order to make use of a computer, one must be able to precisely translate the method of solving the problem into instructions that the computer can blindly follow. Thus, students will gain hands-on experience in programming (in Python). The students will learn some of the numerical techniques used to differentiate and integrate functions and to solve ordinary differential equations, and gain an appreciation to the limits of numerical solutions.

The context of computation will be primarily classical mechanics, include projectile motion, N-body problems, oscillations, normal modes, as well as examples from geophysics such as gravitational prospecting and determining travel times of seismic waves.

Students interested in computational physics have the opportunity to explore this topic further in Physics 3800.


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