UC Santa CruzUC Santa Cruz Department of Physics
View of the Bay from Campus

Physics 116A (Winter 2009): Mathematical Methods in Physics I

Course information

Instructor: Stefano Profumo
Office: ISB, Room 325
Phone Number: 831-459-3039
Office Hour: Wednesdays 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
E-mail: profumo AT scipp.ucsc.edu

Teaching Assistant: Peter Manning
Office: NAT2, Room 308
Phone Number: 480-282-2021
Office Hours: Mondays 4:00 PM -- 6:00 PM
E-mail: pmmannin AT ucsc.edu

Homework Grader: Melissa Downey
E-mail: silverstarsaboveme AT gmail.com

Click here to download the syllabus in PDF format

Class Hours

Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 PM - 3:45 PM, Phys. Sc. 110

Discussion Section: Wednesday evening, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM, new!!! New Location: Phys. Sc. 110

Course description


Required Textbook

Other Textbooks

Course Outline

Topic Reading Period
Infinite Series, Power Series Boas, Chapter 1 Jan 6 - Jan 15
Complex Numbers Boas, Chapter 2 Jan 20 - Jan 29
Linear Algebra and Vector Spaces Boas, Chapter 3 Feb 3 - Mar 3
Special Functions Boas, Chapter 11 Mar 5 - Mar 10
Review Mar 12

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:

  • 30% Weekly Homework (9 problem sets)

  • 10% Collaborative Learning Problems in Discussion Sections

  • 20% Midterm Exam (Tuesday, February 10, 2008, 2:00 PM)

  • 40% Final Exam (Thursday, March 19, 7:30-10:30 PM)

Grade Chart

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 (effectively) not optional, and will consist of a few problems from Boas' textbook. 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. Late homeworks can be submitted to the grader, but will not contribute any points to the final grade. The Grader will grade each homework, and is responsible for the given grade. Homework solutions will be made available on the course website each due date.

A few problems will be assigned at each discussion section to groups of 3-4 students (collaborative learning), coordinated by the teaching assistant. Grading will be given to those present to the discussion section. Under special circumstances, students can get the collaborative learning discussion section assignments in advance and turn them in to the Teaching Assistant if they cannot attend the section.

The midterm exam and the final exam will be held in the same classroom as the lectures. The midterm will be a 1.5 hour written exam on the material covered up to February 5th, while the final will be three hours long and cover the complete course material. Both the midterm and the final will be open-book (you can bring with you any book or notes), but only non-graphical, non-programmable calculators will be allowed (it will be to the discretion of the Instructor to decide whether a calculator is or not allowed). Laptop computers and cellular phone will not be allowed. A practice midterm and final will be handed out a week before the exams. You must take the final exam to pass the course.

The minimal score not to fail the class is 60%.

The final evaluations will be as follows:

  • 60% to 70%: C range

  • 70% to 85%: B range

  • 85% to 100%: A range
Grade Chart

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
HW Set #1 phys116A_HW01.pdf Thursday January 15 HW1Solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #1 phys116A_CL01.pdf Wednesday January 14 CL1_solutions.pdf
HW Set #2 phys116A_HW02.pdf Thursday January 22 HW2Solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #2 phys116A_CL02.pdf Wednesday January 21 CL2_solutions.pdf
HW Set #3 phys116A_HW03.pdf Thursday January 28 HW3Solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #3 phys116A_CL03.pdf Wednesday January 27 CL3_solutions.pdf
HW Set #4 phys116A_HW04.pdf Thursday February 5 HW4_solutions.pdf
Practice Midterm (Problem Set #4) phys116A_CL04.pdf Wednesday February 4 Practice_midterm_solutions.pdf
Midterm midterm.pdf Tuesday February 10 midterm_solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #5 phys116A_CL05.pdf Wednesday February 11
HW Set #5 phys116A_HW05.pdf Thursday February 19 HW5_solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #6 phys116A_CL06.pdf Wednesday February 18
HW Set #6 phys116A_HW06.pdf Thursday February 26 HW6_solutions.pdf
Collaborative Learning Problem Set #7 phys116A_CL07.pdf Wednesday February 25
HW Set #7 phys116A_HW07.pdf Thursday March 5 HW7_solutions.pdf
HW Set #8 phys116A_HW08.pdf Thursday March 12 EXTENDED TO MONDAY MARCH 16
Counts double points!!
Practice Final #1 final_practice1.pdf Wednesday March 11
Practice Final #2 final_practice2.pdf Tuesday March 17
Final Exam final.pdf Tuesday March 17


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.

Last reviewed 01/29/2009 by Stefano Profumo.