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Computational Physics--University of Western Australia

Paul Abbott
Organization: University of Western Australia
Department: Physics
URL: http://www.uwa.edu.au/people/paul.c.abbott
Education level


The objectives of this course are:
  • to use computers as an aid to understanding real physical systems;
  • learn efficient methods for the analysis of these systems.

  • Applied Mathematica: Getting Started, Getting It Done by Shaw and Tigg (Addison-Wesley, 1994)
  • Mathematica: A Practical Approach by Blachman (Prentice Hall, 1992)
  • Mathematica for Scientists and Engineers by Bahder (Addison-Wesley, 1995)
  • Quantum Methods with Mathematica by Feagin (TELOS/Springer-Verlag, 1994)
  • Mathematica for the Sciences by Crandall (Addison-Wesley, 1991)

The broad categories of computational physics are Simulation, Visualisation and Modelling. At a finer scale, computational physics embraces a wide range of areas including numerical methods, algorithms and data analysis. Simulation and modelling are usually taught by stressing numerical techniques -- this course focuses on using symbolic or computer algebra -- in particular, using Mathematica.

This course has consistently achieved good SPOT (Student Perception of Teaching) ratings. It is a good course to teach, being very much hands-on (or even better, "brains-on"). Perhaps the best measure of its success though is the fact that a very large proportion of students completing this course then make good and extensive use of Mathematica in their other courses.

Precision, Interpolation, and Numerical Differentiation
  • Finite and Infinite Precision
  • Interpolation
  • Numerical Differentiation

Fourier Series and the Planar Pendulum
  • Fourier Series
  • Planet Moving in the Field of Two Suns
  • Planar Pendulum

Normal Modes of Coupled Oscillators and Sound
  • Normal Modes of Coupled Oscillators
  • Touch-tone phone

Schroedinger Equation
  • Hydrogen
  • Stark effect for hydrogen
  • Helium perturbation calculation

Image Processing and Chaos
  • Image Processing
  • Julia and Mandelbrot sets

*Applied Mathematics > Numerical Methods
*Science > Physics