Numerical Methods Physics – PHYS 310

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 03/28/2022

Course Description

The use of numerical and computational methods to solve physics problems without analytical solutions. The course introduces and uses MATLAB programming language.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The use of computers in running numerical algorithms to solve mathematical problems is instrumental in doing science and engineering today. In spite of all of standard mathematics coursework being based on the premise that equations are able to be solved on paper by hand, in the real world this premise breaks down. Both the forms of many equations encountered in practice, and the sheer size of real-world calculations make them intractable when approached in the standard way. This course provides the way forward for such real-world problems.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Become familiar with syntax and functions available in MATLAB.
  2. Identify algorithms that can be used to solve algebraic and differential equations arising in physics.
  3. Model, design and implement algorithms for various physics-related problems.
  4. Assess the results of numerical calculations, identify the uncertainties in the results.
  5. Report the results of simulations effectively and clearly and with appropriate graphics and analysis.

Course Assignment

Textbook reading using Smartbook feature

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Read & Interact Assignments (24)

The course textbook is set up with what's called a "SmartBook" feature.  It is an AI-controlled customized reading experience that assesses the student's reading comprehension as he/she goes through the material.  The way it does this is that it quizzes the student occasionally as he/she reads.  Based on the student's responses, it will focus on topics that it assesses what the student needs help on, and avoids coverage of topics which the student understands well. In each module, the student must complete chapter-by-chapter Read & Interact engagements through the course textbook/smartbook.

Homework Assignments (8)

In each module, the student must complete Homework Assignments that utilize what he/she has learned in the course Learn material. The Homework Assignments will be done on the McGraw-Hill Connect platform. If the problems are not qualitative in nature, there is a good chance they will require the use of MATLAB. Each module contains around 15–20 such homework problems.

Quiz: Exams (2)

The Quiz: Midterm Exam covers Learn material from the first four modules. The student will have to use MATLAB for the solving of the problems.  The student must export the live script as a .pdf file within MATLAB before uploading to Canvas. The Quiz: Final Exam covers the last four modules (5-8) and has the same formatting and submitting requirements as the Midterm Exam. Both have a time limit of 3 hours.