PS 607 - Fall 2003

Methods of Mathematical Physics
Lecture course outline

Lecture hours: MWF: 10:10 AM - 11:00 AM
Lecture room: 320 Gore
Instructor: Krzysztof Szalewicz, 121 Sharp, phone: 831 6579,
Office hours: MF, one hour after class
Text: Mathematical Methods for Physicists by G.B. Arfken and H.J. Weber,
Academic Press, 2001 (fifth edition)
Suppl. text: Mathematica by S. Wolfram, Wolfram/Cambridge, 1996
Other texts: See list of books
Prerequisites: MATH302 (Ordinary Differential Equations)
PHYS620 (Classical Mechanics II)
Lecture plan: Along Chapters 1-5 in Arfken-Weber.

Exam 0 (50 minutes)              Sep.  12

Exam 1 (50 minutes) Oct. 15
Exam 2 (50 minutes) Nov. 24
Final exam (2 hours) after Dec. 11
Homework: A few problems (3-10) each week. Normally assigned on Friday,
due the next Friday, returned by the following Friday.

Exam 0:              5% 

Exam 1: 28%
Exam 2: 28%
Final exam: 39%
All problems will be graded on a scale 0 to 10. Exams will consists of problems similar to those given as homework and related to the subjects covered in class. Exam 0 will be from the material of the prerequisite level and below. Exams 1 and 2 will deal with the course material covered in the weeks preceding the exam (exam 2 will not repeat subjects contained in exam 1). The final exam will embrace the whole course with emphasis on subjects not covered by exams 1 and 2. All exams will be closed book. Each exam will contribute to your final grade as the ratio of the number of points earned to the maximum number of points, weighted as listed above. Grades will be approximately assigned as follows: 0.7-1: A, 0.5-0.7: B, 0.3-0.5: C (plus/minus grades will be utilized). Homework will be collected, read, and returned but not graded. However, homework performance may influence your grade. If more than 15% of solutions are missing or are turned in but do not show a reasonable amount of effort, the final grade will be lowered by one step (e.g., from A to A-). Each consecutive missing 15% lowers the grade by one more notch (if no homework returned, A will be changed to C). The same rules apply separately to the Mathematica homework. Detailed solutions to homework and exam problems will be put on reserve in the physics library.

Course Objectives
PS607 and PS608 comprise a one-year sequence of courses. The courses are taken mainly by physics graduate students but our undergraduates are encouraged to take them as well. The sequence covers most of the material treated in the Arfken and Weber text although the lectures often stray away from the text. The pace of the course varies depending on the familiarity of students with a given subject (for example, most of the vector analysis is treated briefly). The main objective of the MM sequence is to provide a solid background for graduate studies in physics and astronomy. The secondary objective is to prepare students for the Qualifying Exam. The latter determines the difficulty of homework and exam problems and in fact several problems similar to those appearing on the qualifier are used.

How to Study
Exam 0 is designed to advise students about how well are they prepared for this course. A set of past exams (0, 1, 2, F) with solutions will be put in the library. Use this information and discuss it with me to find out if this course is right for you and if you need to improve your knowledge of the prerequisite material.

Beside an active participation in the lectures, the best method of learning is to solve as many problems as possible. The problems assigned as homework are a bare minimum. Make sure you solve all those problems yourself (although prior discusssions with me or fellow students are encouraged) rather than fish for somebody's else solutions. If you choose the latter, you will not be able to do well on exams which consist of problems very similar to homework problems. Although I put active learning (by solving problems and studying material as need for this purpose) first, systematic studying of texts should not be neglected. Do not restict yourself to Arfken-Weber but use other texts on the enclosed list. Some of those books should be available on reserve in the physics library. 2003-09-18