PH562 – Mathematical Physics

 Fall 2018


Instructor: Weihong Qiu, Ph.D;

        Office: Weniger 371;



Class times: MWF 11:00-11:50 am, WNGR 201

Course credits: 3

Office hours: Thursday 3-4pm Weniger 371; additional hours can be arranged by email.



§  “Mathematical Physics” by Eugene Butkov.



       “Mathematical Methods for Physicists: A Comprehensive Guide” by G. Arfken and H. Weber.

        “Methods of Mathematical Physics, Volume I & II”, by R. Courant and D. Hilbert.

       “Methods of Theoretical Physics, Parts 1 and 2” by P.M. Morse and H. Feshbach.

       “Mathematical Physics: A Modern Introduction to Its Foundations”, 2nd edition by S. Hassani.



New students enter the physics graduate program with different mathematical backgrounds. Not everybody comes directly out of college. The goal of this course is to get you to think about mathematics again, but in the context of skills needed as a physics graduate student.

The goals of this course are:

    To become familiar with some mathematical techniques used in the graduate classes.

    To understand the background and context of these mathematical methods, and to know when they apply and when not.

    To analyze models in physics and relate to mathematical methods.


Specifically, we will cover topics in the following chapters of “Mathematical Physics” by Eugene Butkov:

Chapters 1 (Vectors, Matrics, and Coordinates);

2 (Functions of a Complex Variable);

3 (Linear Differential Equations of Second Order);

4 (Fourier Series);

5 (The Laplace Transformation);

7 (Fourier Transforms);

8 (Partial Differential Equations);

9 (Special Functions)

12 (Green’s Functions)

13 (Variational Methods)


Course Work:

    Homework should be turned on the day it is due. I will drop your lowest homework score, which allows you to skip one homework assignment without any penalty. Many people will have a week where too many things are getting in the way of homework. The “drop-one-homework-score” policy is meant to give you some flexibility.


    This is a mathematical physics class, and homework solutions should be presented in analytical form, and not be obtained from packages, such as Mathematica and Matlab, unless stated differently. Of course, those packages are very important, and I would certainly encourage using them to check answers.


    Science is inherently a social and collaborative effort. Nevertheless, each student must ultimately be responsible for his or her own education. Therefore, you are expected to abide by a number of ground rules:


a)      We strongly encourage students to work with each other, more advanced students, and the professor, when they get stuck on assignments. Each student, however, is expected to turn in assignments that have been independently written up (unless instructed differently). In other words, the final synthesis must be entirely your own. This applies also to, and especially to, computer-generated worksheets. If you work with someone on a computer project, do not get locked in to writing the solution together. You will end up turning in the same assignment.


b)      Sources must be appropriately documented. If you find a homework problem worked out somewhere (other than homework solutions from previous years), you may certainly use that resource. Just make sure you reference it properly. If someone else helps you solve a problem, mention that too. In a research paper, the appropriate reference would be Jane Doe (private communication).


c)       Plagiarism – representing someone else's work as your own – is unethical, but collaboration and exchange of ideas is healthy. You can avoid collaborative efforts taking on the look of plagiarism by acknowledging sources and by writing up your work independently.


d)      If you find that you have worked on a problem for an hour without making any progress, it would be a good idea to stop and seek help.


Course Evaluation:

40% Homework Assignment (6 homework)

30% Midterm

30% Final

Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.”


Statement of Expectations for Student Conduct  


Diversity Statement

The College of Health and Human Sciences strives to create an affirming climate for all students including underrepresented and marginalized individuals and groups. Diversity encompasses differences in age, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, physical or mental ability, religion, socioeconomic background, veteran status, sexual orientation, and marginalized groups. We believe diversity is the synergy, connection, acceptance, and mutual learning fostered by the interaction of different human characteristics.


Religious Holidays

Oregon State University strives to respect all religious practices.  If you have religious holidays that are in conflict with any of the requirements of this class, please see me immediately so that we can make alternative arrangements.