LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY Spring 2007

PHYSICS 440: Mathematical Methods of Physics

INSTRUCTOR: Megan K. Pickett

OFFICE: Youngchild 105

**OFFICE HOURS**: MWF 1:30-3pm; R 10am-11am; & by appointment

PHONE: (920) 993-6269

EMAIL: megan.pickett@lawrence.edu

LECTURE TIMES: MWF 8:30 (sigh) - 9:40 AM

LECTURE ROOM: YOU 115

CLASS WEBSITE: http://www.lawrence.edu/fast/pickettm/p440s07/

Welcome to Physics 440, Mathematical Methods of Physics. In this course, we will cover a variety of mathematical topics and methods that are particularly useful in physics, but for which we never seem to have enough time to cover in the main courses. Consider this class the mathematical spackle that fills in the gaps. Okay, that's not a great analogy, but I think you get the picture: we'll be studying how to use some higher-end mathematics to solve typical (and not so typical) physics problems.

**TEXT:**The Entirely Appropriate if a Little Obviously Titled
*Mathematical Methods for Physicists (6e)*, by Arfken and Weber. This
is a classic text (or was, way back when Arfken was flying solo) and a useful tome to have handy as either
a mathematical resource or, given its heft, a kinetic energy weapon. If you
are considering grad school, you'll no doubt see it again. I have also
used Mary Boas's Slightly Longer but Still Appropriately Titled *Mathematical Methods in the Physical
Sciences* in the past and recommend it, though I won't be using it as a supplemental text this term
(Boas's book is great, just a little less rigorous than Arfken (and
now Arfken and Weber).

**READINGS: **I expect you to read through the assigned reading prior
to class. This will enhance your learning and make our class time more
useful. Given the nature of the material and the course, I plan to be fairly
flexible with the course schedule. If we fall behind or zip through some chapters, I'll let you know the
schedule change in lecture and online as soon as possible.

**ASSIGNMENTS:**
There will be seven homework assignments;
your averaged homework score will constitute 30% of your total grade.
Students are encouraged to work in groups, but **you must turn in
your own work in your own words**. Problem sets are the best
possible way for you to learn the class material and prepare for
exams. Extensive solutions will be provided in class on the due
dates, and so I cannot accept any late homework.

My homework
deal for you: If you turn in **EVERY** assignment **AND** make
an honest attempt to answer **EVERY** question on each assignment,
then I will drop your lowest homework score. This is meant to
encourage you to work each and every problem assigned. If you have
any difficulty, drop by my office, send me an email, call me, use
sema-fore--however you do it, let me know you have a question, and I
will be happy to help.

The homework assignments will be posted as we approach each section in the course;
the first three problem sets, relevant to Part One: Series and Complex Analysis are
already available here.

**TESTS AND FINAL:** There will be two tests and a final in this
course. The final examination will be cumulative, while emphasizing
material covered since the third test. The cumulative section of the
final will be based on the questions in the first two exams that gave
the class the most difficulty. I design the final in such a way in
order to reduce the amount you need to study at the end of the year as
well as offer the class a chance at showing me that it has mastered
problems that caused difficulties earlier.

All exams are
closed book and closed notes, although each exam will include a list
of useful (and not particularly useful) formulae. You may use a
calculator, but whatever device you use must NOT connect to the
internet or in any way store data prior to the exam. The equation
list means that you will not need to memorize most equations, but you
will have to be able to recognize which formula is appropriate and
what it means: remember, this is a *Methods* course as much as
anything else. Any integral tables will be supplied. The equation
list for each exam will be made available with each practice exam (see
below), so you should assume that if a particular equation is NOT on
the list, you should be prepared to remember it.

I will supply the class with "practice exams" the week before each exam as a guide to help you study, and to give you and idea of what my exam questions are like. I am willing to schedule a review session to discuss these or any other problems before each exam if we can find a time that most people can make, otherwise we can go over the practice questions during my office hours. In any case, solutions to the practice tests will NOT be provided. Since each exam takes place during a 70 minute class period, I anticipate that the midterms will contain about four problems each (though, of course, physicists being physicists, you just know that some of those problems will have multiple parts to them).

COURSE GRADE:

Assignment Average |
30% |

Exam 1 |
20% |

Exam 2 |
20% |

Final Exam |
30% |

Total Grade |
100% |

Grades will be posted on the website and updated weekly, with a running estimated course grade computed after the first exam. My hope is that a curve won't be needed, and that a strictly 100-90% = A, 89-80% = B and so on will be sufficient. However, I will curve if necessary, in which case the curve will be designed such that the average score sets the position for a B-. I will not raise the curve, however. If you all get 95%'s, you all get A's and I'll go home this summer a very happy professor.

**COMMUNICATION:** An important asset in any field is the ability to communicate
your ideas clearly. With this in mind, I expect all homework and exams to
be written legibly and presented neatly. Plots and figures should be labelled
accurately and captioned if necessary. Finally, your answer to any question MUST
include the appropriate units, if applicable.

**PLEASE NOTE:**
If you EVER need help, please feel absolutely free to contact
me in any way that is convenient. I have plenty of office hours, and
I am always willing to set aside separate times if those are
inconvenient. NOTHING I DO AT WORK IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HELPING MY
STUDENTS. Do not wait until it is too late. I'm here to help.

**ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:** Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be
tolerated. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to,
plagiarism, cheating on exams, falsifying experimental data, and providing
unauthorized aid to another student. If you have any questions, please
feel free to talk to me or consult the student guide. Any material turned into
me must have the honor pledge written (or abbreviated, yes, that's fine, too) and
signed, or I will not grade it.

**ADA AND ANTIDISCRIMINATION STATEMENTS:** In compliance with
the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), all qualified students
enrolled in this course are entitled to reasonable accommodations. It
is your responsibility to inform me of any special needs you may need
before the end of the second week of classes. I also believe firmly
in the right for each student to be respected, both by a student's
peers and her or his instructor. I am therefore strongly committed to
ensuring that the antidiscrimination policy established at Lawrence will be
honored in my class.