Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics
Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters
In this intermediate to advanced program, we will build on previous introductory work in calculus and calculus-based physics to deepen our understanding of the complex and powerful connections between mathematics and physics. We will integrate theory and experiment in a collaborative environment that mirrors the communities and practices of contemporary mathematicians and physicists. Through study of classical and cutting-edge problems, we aim to ask increasingly sophisticated questions about the nature of physical reality and develop tools to start to answer those questions.
Through readings, lectures, labs, workshops and seminars, we will examine the principal models by which we describe and understand the physical world, starting from the realm of our immediate senses and expanding to encompass many orders of magnitude of scales of distance, time, speed, matter and energy. We will emphasize understanding the nature and formal structure of quantitative physical theories, unifying the concepts and mathematical structures that organize different physical theories into a coherent body of knowledge. Mathematical skills will be developed as needed and in the context of their use in the physical sciences. Quantitative problem solving will be emphasized and computational tools will be used for gaining insight into physical processes. The theoretical focus will be complemented with extensive hands-on laboratory work to develop the discipline and practical problem-solving skills of the experimental physicist.
In physics, we will study topics from classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, as well as drawing from atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter and material physics and astrophysics. In mathematics, we will study topics from differential equations, multivariable and vector calculus and linear algebra. In addition to work in core areas of physics and applied mathematics, we will devote time to looking at our studies in a broader historical, philosophical and cultural context.
Our theoretical and experimental investigations will be complex and challenging and will demand hard work and engaged collaboration. Our goal is for each student to develop sufficient conceptual knowledge, mathematical ability and experimental skills to pursue advanced, graduate or professional work in physics and related disciplines.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day