UC Santa CruzUC Santa Cruz Department of Physics
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Physics 116A (Winter 2008): Mathematical Methods in Physics I

Course information

Instructor: Stefano Profumo
Office: ISB, Room 325
Phone Number: 831-459-3039
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30 - 3:30 PM (or by app.)
E-mail: profumo AT scipp.ucsc.edu

Teaching Assistant: John Kehayias
Office: ISB, Room 262
Phone Number: 831-459-5010
Office Hours: Wednesdays 4:00 - 5:00 PM
E-mail: kehayias AT physics.ucsc.edu

Homework Grader: Ben Nelson
E-mail: benelson AT ucsc.edu

Click here to download the syllabus in PDF format

Class Hours

Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00 PM - 1:45 PM, Phys. Sc. 114
Discussion Section: Wednesday evening, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM, ISB 231 new!!! Starting Wednesday January 16 Discussion Section will be in ISB 235

Course description

Infinite series including power series, asymptotic expansions, special functions defined by an integral, complex numbers and some functions of a complex variable, topics in linear algebra including matrices and determinants, solving systems of linear equations, eigenvalue problems and matrix diagonalization, introduction to tensors.


Required Textbook

Other Introductory Textbooks

Course Outline

Topic Reading Period
Infinite Series, Power Series Boas, Chapter 1 Jan 8 - Jan 15
Complex Numbers Boas, Chapter 2 Jan 17 - Jan 24
Linear Algebra and Vector Spaces Boas, Chapter 3 Jan 29 - Feb 26
Tensor Analysis Boas, Chapter 10 Feb 28 - Mar 4
Special Functions Boas, Chapter 11 Mar 6 - Mar 11
Review Mar 13

Course Grading and Requirements

Student evaluations will be based on their performance in the following four tasks. The tasks and their relative weights in determining the students' overall course grades are given below:

Weekly homework assignments will be handed out each Thursday and are due at the beginning of class on the Thursday of the following week. The homework problem sets are not optional. You are encouraged to discuss the class material and homework problems with your classmates and to work in groups, but all submitted problems should represent your own work and understanding. In order that homework can be graded effciently and returned quickly, there will be a 50% penalty for late homework. This penalty may be waived in special circumstances if you see the instructor before the original due date. Homework solutions will be made available each Monday (following the Thursday due date); no late homeworks will be accepted after that.

The two midterm exams and final exams will be held in the same classroom as the lectures. Each midterm will be a one hour exams, and will be followed by a shortened lecture of 45 minutes. The final exam will be three hours long and cover the complete course material. You must take the final exam to pass the course.

Homework exercises

The solutions are password protected, please email the instructor if you don't know the username and password.

Homework Set number (PDF) Due Date Solutions
1 phys116A_HW01.pdf Thursday January 17 phys116A_SL01.pdf
2 phys116A_HW02.pdf Thursday January 24 phys116A_SL02.pdf
Midterm 1 - Practice midterm1_practice.pdf
Midterm 1 midterm1.pdf midterm1_sol.pdf
Midterm 1 - Statistics Midterm1 - Statistics
3 phys116A_HW03.pdf Thursday January 31 phys116A_SL03.pdf
4 phys116A_HW04.pdf Thursday February 7 phys116A_SL04.pdf
5 phys116A_HW05.pdf Thursday February 14 phys116A_SL05.pdf
6 phys116A_HW06.pdf Thursday February 21 phys116A_SL06.pdf
7 phys116A_HW07.pdf Thursday February 28 phys116A_SL07.pdf
Midterm 2 - Practice midterm2_practice.pdf
Midterm 2 midterm2.pdf midterm2_sol.pdf
Midterm 2 - Statistics Midterm2 - Statistics
8 phys116A_HW08.pdf Thursday March 6 phys116A_SL08.pdf
9 phys116A_HW09.pdf Thursday March 13
First Practice Final final_practice.pdf
Second Practice Final phys116A_HWF.pdf
More Practice Final: the 2007 Final FINAL_07.pdf
Solutions to the 2007 Final FINAL_07_sol.pdf
More Practice Final: the 2006 Final FINAL_06.pdf


Galileo's Corner

La filosofia e' scritta in questo grandissimo libro che continuamente ci sta aperto innanzi a gli occhi (io dico l'universo), ma non si puo' intendere se prima non s'impara a intender la lingua, e conoscer i caratteri, ne' quali e' scritto. Egli e' scritto in lingua matematica, e i caratteri son triangoli, cerchi, ed altre figure geometriche, senza i quali mezzi e' impossibile a intenderne umanamente parola; senza questi e' un aggirarsi vanamente per un oscuro laberinto. (Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore, 1623)

Philosophy (Knowledge) is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes (I call it the Universe), but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word; without knowledge of those, it's a useless wandering in a dark labyrinth.

Feynman's Corner

Physics is like sex: sure, it can give practical results, but that's not why we do it

Last reviewed 03/13/2008 by Stefano Profumo.