Computational Physics III
PH 466 / PH 566
3 Credits, CRN 55189
 Oregon State University

Spring  2012

Mathematical, numerical, and conceptual elements forming foundations of scientific computing: computer hardware, algorithms, precision, numerical analysis & parallel computing. Video-based lectures plus labs.

Book Cover

An eCampus (online) course with no regularly-scheduled lab or office hour, but with video lecture modules including encapsulated slides. The instructor gladly works with students via email or phone, with email the preferred approach (communication through Blackboard is awkward). If there is sufficient interest, we can arrange a regular Skype Office Hour and lab meetings; please let the instructor know via email if you are interested.

Note, for this online course to work for you, you must be proactive in putting questions to the instructor, to other students, and in getting help quickly before you fall behind. You are encouraged to ask questions about the assignment before handing them in.

Professor:  Rubin H Landau

Midterm:  3 May
Final Exam:  iff

 Syllabus & Assignments

Office 499 Weniger (part time)
CP Lab: Weniger 412, 497

Course Description & Aims

Learning Outcomes

CPUG A CP Curriculum

Project Instructions

Sample Project Report

Video Lectures, Only Slides

Student Expectations

Acceptable Cooperation with Others

Prerequisites:   PH 465/565                  Corequisites:    Jr level physics

Curricular Materials


 Landau, Paez, Bordeianu A Survey of Computational Physics; introductory computational science, Princeton University Press, 2008.

eTextBook (Python)

With NSF and OSU support, we  have created a Python version of the text in the form an eTextBook. A complete version of it is available from Compadre (AAPT Physical Science Resource Center) and Merlot (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching).


 Sample Codes in multiple languages, Animations, Applets, Visualizations, etc., see text's CD


Quality and completeness of projects (best N-1 of N)

55%  Midterm   20%
Final Exam 20% Participation 5%
The projects involve some programming and explorations, usually done with a modification of a sample code. In order to receive a full grade, each project, to the extent possible, must describe in your own words the five major elements (use these as headings):
1. Equations solved 4. Results; preferably visualization
2. Algorithm used 5. Critical analysis (what you learned or not)
3. Code listing (preferably link  to it)  

The exams emphasize assigned readings, understanding of concepts and vocabulary, but not programming details Use of any compiled language is acceptable, with Python or Java recommended. Sample old exam (from what is now called PH 464).

You must sign up for a proctored exam exams via the link Please do it early so that you can fit the exam into your schedule.

Acceptable Cooperation: You are encouraged to discuss assignments with the instructors and other students. Even if you work in a group, it is still your responsibility to understand the work you hand in. When you place your name on an assignment, it is viewed as a signed statement that it is your work and that if asked to, you can explain it.

Warning: Handing in another student's assignment (either in original or modified form) without acknowledgement is academic dishonesty and will result in an F grade for the entire course. Sample codes are given to you, there is no credit for just running them.

Needed Software and Computational Physics Lab: You should be able to load up your personal computer with all the software you will need for this course (and it's all free!). The text describes how to do this, although you may want find a friend if you have trouble with installation. Just what you will need depends on the computer language you use (see text). There are two Computational Physics labs in the OSU Physics Department that were set up for use of this course. You may have to get a key from the Physics Department office.

Partial support has been provided by the National Science Foundation for the CPUG degree program and the BMACC project.
2012, Rubin H LandauOregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 97331