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PH30055: Computational physics A

Owning Department/School: Department of Physics
Credits: 6
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Period: Semester 1
Assessment: CW 100%
Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Requisites: Before taking this unit you must take PH20018 and an appropriate selection of year 1 and year 2 physics units.
Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to introduce students to the practical use of computer modelling as a complement to theoretical and experimental solution of physical problems, to introduce a contemporary package available to the modeller, and to explore topics in physics that lend themselves to computational modelling.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* identify the strengths and weaknesses of a computational approach to modelling;
* demonstrate a practical knowledge of the Maple computer algebra system;
* construct Maple worksheets to analyse physical problems;
* use computational modelling to perform in-depth investigations into selected topics;
* explain the methodology, relevant issues and output of the investigations performed.

Skills:
Written Communication T/F A, Numeracy T/F A, Data Acquisition, Handling, and Analysis T/F A, Information Technology T/F A, Problem Solving T/F A.

Content:
Introduction to computational modelling as a means of gaining physical insight: Contemporary applications of computer modelling.
Computer algebra packages as a scientific computer environment: Problems solved effectively in this environment and those that are not.
Practical introduction to Maple: Data structures; constants, variables, expressions, functions, lists, arrays and sets. Basic calculus; integration, differentiation, limits. Standard functions. Graphics. Data i/o. Solving equations; symbolic, numerical, systems of equations, ordinary differential equations. Linear Algebra. Programming; logic, loops, procedures.
Exercises and projects based upon construction of Maple worksheets: Examples may include: Bound state problems in quantum physics by shooting method, basis set expansion. Coupled oscillators; normal modes, time-series analysis. Planetary dynamics; orbit prediction, three-body problems, chaotic motion. Electrons in molecules and solids; linear combination of atomic orbitals, energy levels/bands, bonding/antibonding. Fractals; generation, characterisation via fractal dimension. Stochastic systems; random walkers, diffusion limited aggregation. Dynamics of non-linear systems; logistic map, Lorentz equations, limit cycles, chaos. Percolation; cluster counting algorithms, percolation threshold.
Programme availability:

PH30055 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Physics
• USPH-AFB05 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing (Full-time) - Year 3
• USPH-AKB06 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing (with Placement) (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 4
• USPH-AAB06 : BSc (hons) Physics with Computing with Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 4

PH30055 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Physics
• USXX-AFB03 : BSc (hons) Mathematics and Physics (Full-time) - Year 3
• USXX-AKB04 : BSc (hons) Mathematics and Physics with Placement (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 4
• USXX-AAB04 : BSc (hons) Mathematics and Physics with Study Year Abroad (Full-time with Study Year Abroad) - Year 4
• USPH-AFB09 : BSc Physics (Full-time) - Year 3
• USPH-AKB09 : BSc Physics (with Placement) (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 4
• USPH-AFM02 : MPhys Physics (Full-time) - Year 3
• USPH-AFM04 : MPhys Physics with Research Placement (Full-time) - Year 3

Notes:
* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2013/4 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2014/15 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2013/14.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.