Anita Raja

Professor of Computer Science, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs

Ph235 Physics Simulations Fall 2015 > Syllabus

      The Cooper Union

Albert Nerken School of Engineering           


        Ph 235                                              Physics Simulations                                    Fall 2015       


Instructor: Professor Anita Raja       


Course Information 


Catalog description: Students will be taught how to numerically solve ordinary differential equations using 4th order techniques such as Runge-Kutta and Adams-Bashforth-Moulton in the Python programming language. These techniques will be used to solve diverse physics problems not amenable to simple analytical solution, such as n-body gravitational motion, the motion of charged particles in a magnetic bottle, the behavior of a car's suspension on a bumpy road. Emphasis is placed on physically accurate modeling (e.g. satisfying conservation laws to high accuracy) and the effective use of computer graphics/animation for the presentation of results. Students need not have significant programming experience for this course.


Topics include: implementation of fourth-order Runge-Kutta and Adams-Bashforth-Moulton, Fourier transforms, Stochastic processes and Monte Carlo simulations as well as appropriate techniques for visualization/animation of simulation results. 


The course will be structured as a series of physics problems such as rigid body collisions, physics of roller coasters, car suspension simulation, chaotic solar systems, that will require accurate and detailed physical and mathematical modeling. The final project will be an advanced application determined by the student in consultation with the instructor and can cover topics ranging from advanced molecular dynamics to biophysics modeling.


Prerequisite: CS102, Ph112, Ma113, and permission of instructor 


Meeting Time and Location: Fridays 2:00-4:50pm , Physics Lab  301 NAB. 


Credit: 3 units  


This 3-credit course requires 3 hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction and on average 2-6 hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks.  Out-of-class work may include but is not limited to: Required Reading, Coding assignments, Written assignments, and studying for quizzes and exams.


Text Books:  


Optional Book:Computational Physics with Python - Mark Newman      (Createspace Independent Publishing, 2012, ISBN 1480145513).

Additional Readings will be provided as handouts.

Other reference texts:

Computational Physics, Rubin H. Landau, Manuel J. Paez, and Cristian C. Bordeianu (Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2007).


Instructor: Anita Raja,, 212-353-4309


Office hours:  Tuesday 2:30-3:30pm or by appointment,    Room 204 (in Dean’s suite)


WebSite:  Participants can access the course web site by logging into moodle.    All assignments have to be submitted using Moodle, without exception.  Students are responsible for monitoring the Moodle site and message boards on a regular basis. Use of the Moodle Discussion Board is encouraged.    



Grading Schema:         


Quizzes                                                                                 10%       

1  Midterm Exam                                                                  20% 

Assignments (5-6)                                                                 40%  

Final Project                                                                          30%        



  •  There will be reading assignments for each week and will be specified in the syllabus.
  •  Assignments should be submitted by 11:30pm on the due date. Late submissions up to 3 days (beyond the due date specified by the assignment) will be automatically allowed on Moodle.
  •    Late submissions will result in a 10% penalty per day for up to 5 days and then it is a 0 on that assignment - no exceptions will be made.
  •    Discussion of assignments is allowed but you must write your own code. You can use code from the textbook’s online link as a starting point but copying code form other books or the internet is not permitted.
  •       The final project will be a single person project.
  •      Please read the section on Academic Standards and Regulations found in the Course Catalog. Feel free to talk to me to me if you have questions whether an action would violate the integrity code.
  •       The standards and requirements set forth in this syllabus may be modified at any time. Notice of such changes will be by announcement in class or or by changes to this syllabus posted on the course website.         



 © 2015 Anita Raja