PHYS 4041 -- New Course

Thu Mar 3 09:39:44 2011

Approvals Received:
on 02-10-11
by Anne Bartels
Approvals Pending: College/Dean  > Catalog > PeopleSoft Manual Entry
Effective Status: Active
Effective Term: 1119 - Fall 2011
Course: PHYS 4041
UMNTC - Twin Cities
UMNTC - Twin Cities
Career: UGRD
College: TIOT - College of Science and Engineering
Department: 11140 - Physics & Astronomy, Sch of
Course Title Short: Computational Methods
Course Title Long: Computational Methods in the Physical Sciences
Max-Min Credits
for Course:
4.0 to 4.0 credit(s)
Introduction to using computer programs to solve problems in physical sciences. Selected numerical methods, mapping problems onto computational algorithms. Arranged lab.
Print in Catalog?: Yes
CCE Catalog
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Grading Basis: Stdnt Opt
Topics Course: No
Honors Course: No
Delivery Mode(s): Classroom
Contact Hours:
4.0 hours per week
Years most
frequently offered:
Other frequency
Term(s) most
frequently offered:
Fall, Spring
Component 1: LAB (no final exam)
Component 2: LEC (no final exam)
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
4.0 credit(s)
Financial Aid
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
4.0 credit(s)
Repetition of
Repetition not allowed.
for Catalog:
Upper div or grad student or #
No required consent
(course-based or
000238 - jr or sr or grad student
Editor Comments: <no text provided>
Proposal Changes: Course is requirement for computational physics emphasis.
History Information: Phys4041 is equivalent to Ast4101. Course is being created with Physics designator since physics faculty will teach it sometimes, and course is slated to become required for the computational physics emphasis in the future.
Sponsor Name:
Sponsor E-mail Address:
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes: * Student in the course:

- Can identify, define, and solve problems

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

This will be achieved through a combination of problem solving homework assignments and in-class examples that drive discussion of not only the result, but the process of identifying, defining, and solving computational problems in the physical sciences.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Assessment of these skills will come primarily in the form of questions on examinations designed to require all three skills in order to be successful.

Liberal Education
this course fulfills:
Other requirement
this course fulfills:
Criteria for
Core Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed core requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or method.

Core courses must meet the following requirements:

  • They explicitly help students understand what liberal education is, how the content and the substance of this course enhance a liberal education, and what this means for them as students and as citizens.
  • They employ teaching and learning strategies that engage students with doing the work of the field, not just reading about it.
  • They include small group experiences (such as discussion sections or labs) and use writing as appropriate to the discipline to help students learn and reflect on their learning.
  • They do not (except in rare and clearly justified cases) have prerequisites beyond the University's entrance requirements.
  • They are offered on a regular schedule.
  • They are taught by regular faculty or under exceptional circumstances by instructors on continuing appointments. Departments proposing instructors other than regular faculty must provide documentation of how such instructors will be trained and supervised to ensure consistency and continuity in courses.

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Criteria for
Theme Courses:
Describe how the course meets the specific bullet points for the proposed theme requirement. Give concrete and detailed examples for the course syllabus, detailed outline, laboratory material, student projects, or other instructional materials or methods.

Theme courses have the common goal of cultivating in students a number of habits of mind:
  • thinking ethically about important challenges facing our society and world;
  • reflecting on the shared sense of responsibility required to build and maintain community;
  • connecting knowledge and practice;
  • fostering a stronger sense of our roles as historical agents.

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Writing Intensive
Propose this course
as Writing Intensive
Question 1 (see CWB Requirement 1): How do writing assignments and writing instruction further the learning objectives of this course and how is writing integrated into the course? Note that the syllabus must reflect the critical role that writing plays in the course.

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Question 2 (see CWB Requirement 2): What types of writing (e.g., research papers, problem sets, presentations, technical documents, lab reports, essays, journaling etc.) will be assigned? Explain how these assignments meet the requirement that writing be a significant part of the course work, including details about multi-authored assignments, if any. Include the required length for each writing assignment and demonstrate how the minimum word count (or its equivalent) for finished writing will be met.

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Question 3 (see CWB Requirement 3): How will students' final course grade depend on their writing performance? What percentage of the course grade will depend on the quality and level of the student's writing compared to the percentage of the grade that depends on the course content? Note that this information must also be on the syllabus.

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Question 4 (see CWB Requirement 4): Indicate which assignment(s) students will be required to revise and resubmit after feedback from the instructor. Indicate who will be providing the feedback. Include an example of the assignment instructions you are likely to use for this assignment or assignments.

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Question 5 (see CWB Requirement 5): What types of writing instruction will be experienced by students? How much class time will be devoted to explicit writing instruction and at what points in the semester? What types of writing support and resources will be provided to students?

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Question 6 (see CWB Requirement 6): If teaching assistants will participate in writing assessment and writing instruction, explain how will they be trained (e.g. in how to review, grade and respond to student writing) and how will they be supervised. If the course is taught in multiple sections with multiple faculty (e.g. a capstone directed studies course), explain how every faculty mentor will ensure that their students will receive a writing intensive experience.

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Course Syllabus
Course Syllabus: For new courses and courses in which changes in content and/or description and/or credits are proposed, please provide a syllabus that includes the following information: course goals and description; format;structure of the course (proposed number of instructor contact hours per week, student workload effort per week, etc.); topics to be covered; scope and nature of assigned readings (text, authors, frequency, amount per week); required course assignments; nature of any student projects; and how students will be evaluated. The University "Syllabi Policy" can be found here

The University policy on credits is found under Section 4A of "Standards for Semester Conversion" found here. Course syllabus information will be retained in this system until new syllabus information is entered with the next major course modification. This course syllabus information may not correspond to the course as offered in a particular semester.

(Please limit text to about 12 pages. Text copied and pasted from other sources will not retain formatting and special characters might not copy properly.)

Phys4041 Syllabus

Computational Methods in the Physical Sciences

The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the use of computers in solving problems common to physical sciences. It is not a course designed to learn a programming language. I will assume a basic prior understanding of a high level programming language, C, C++, and/or FORTRAN. Any of these languages is acceptable, although FORTRAN is recommended, since your codes will usually be much simpler in FORTRAN. You will be expected to write programs in one of these languages (NOT in Mathematica, for example) for your class assignments and exams. You need not be expert in the language; you will get better through the course. The focus will be on problem solving and some of the numerical techniques commonly used for that purpose, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of these methods. Scientific programming is as much an art as a science, so students in this class will be expected on a regular basis to write, test and apply their own routines in one of the above languages in order to experience firsthand many of the issues associated with the subject. Wherever possible, examples will be selected from physics and astronomy contexts.

** One meeting per week will be for practical lab experience with the algorithms under discussion. The first meeting will be a basic tutorial on computational/programming skills.

----Course Outline----

1) Some basic tools
a. Starting basics: Differences between numerical and analytic arithmetic; controlling and living with numerical errors
b. Finite Differences
c. Interpolation
d. Roots of Equations
e. Integration
f. Linear Algebra
g. Discrete Fourier Transformations (FORTRAN:cfft.1.f);(C++:cfft.cpp)(DS9)

2) Random Processes & Monte Carlo Simulations

3) Ordinary Differential Equations

4) Partial Differential Equations

Official text: "Computational Physics: An Introduction" 2E by Franz Vesely (Kluwer)

Highly recommended reference: "Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing" by Press, Teukolsky, Vetterling, & Flannery (Cambridge)

----Basis for course grade----
50% Quasi-weekly homework assignments
10% Weekly lab participation
15% Take-home midterm exam
25% Take-home final exam

Late homework policy: Homework assignments will be accepted one class date after they are officially due with no penalty; however, they will not be accepted at all after that. Generally, the due date will be a Tuesday.

----General Information----

Important policies on homework and exams (be sure to read):

1) Students may use computers of their own choosing (information about CSE computer labs is listed below), provided they have the necessary compilers and suitable graphical software installed.

2) Routines must be programmed by the student in one of the languages listed above (C, C++, FORTRAN). General math packages such as Matlab or Mathematica can be used for verification purposes only.  Do not turn in solutions based on these packages. They will not be graded.

3) Source codes must be written by the student who turns in a given assignment; routines may not be copied from Numerical Recipes, for example. That defeats the purpose of the course.

4) Submitted problem solutions, in addition to requested application results and/or plots, must include the source code used to generate those results with enough coding comments that anyone can understand your plan and what your routine is supposed to be doing as it executes. A simple flow chart or equivalent logical outline may be included to indicate intended programming logic.

5) Write your routines in modular, object oriented forms and in a sufficiently general way that you can incorporate them easily into subsequent exercises. This will save you a great deal of effort later on, since many routines will be used again in lab exercises, subsequent homework and exams.

6) Students are encouraged to collaborate on the homework; however, the full solutions must be individually prepared and submitted.

7) Students must work independently on take-home exams; signed statements verifying independent effort will be required.

Strategic Objectives & Consultation
Name of Department Chair
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Strategic Objectives -
Curricular Objectives:
How does adding this course improve the overall curricular objectives ofthe unit?

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Strategic Objectives - Core
Does the unit consider this course to be part of its core curriculum?

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Strategic Objectives -
Consultation with Other
In order to prevent course overlap and to inform other departments of new curriculum, circulate proposal to chairs in relevant units and follow-up with direct consultation. Please summarize response from units consulted and include correspondence. By consultation with other units, the information about a new course is more widely disseminated and can have a positive impact on enrollments. The consultation can be as simple as an email to the department chair informing them of the course and asking for any feedback from the faculty.

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