Advanced Mechanics (PHYS*3400)

Code and section: PHYS*3400*01

Term: Winter 2015

Instructor: Paul Garrett


Course Information

The Purpose of this Course

This course is a continuation of fundamentals of Classical Mechanics begun with Mechanics I&II offered in your 2'rd year. The principal aim of this course is to continue building the foundation of classical physics that students need in their progress toward the frontier of modern physics research.

The course will offer lectures in the following areas: Lagrangian mechanics, Hamiltonian mechanics, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, Poisson brackets and commutators. Treatment of essential mathematical concepts, including elliptical integrals, calculus of variations, special functions, transformations, group theory, etc., will be inter-weaved with the material as necessary. A special effort will be made throughout the course to make a connection to quantum mechanics. Depending on the time available, and demand, topics in fluid mechanics, physics of continua, non-linear systems and chaotic mechanics, or general relativity may be introduced.

Prerequisite: PHYS*2170 (or 2270), PHYS*2320/2450. Successful completion of MATH*2160 and MATH*3100 is highly recommended.


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Paul Garrett MacN 220 52192


Day Time Location
MWF 11:30 – 12:20 MACN 318

Required Materials

Course notes will be available on the courselink webpage. In addition, an excellent set of course notes used by Prof. E. Poisson is available at

The text from Mechanics I and II, John R. Taylor “Classical Mechanics” will also be very useful.

The following texts are excellent additional references:

  • Herbert Goldstein, Charles P. Poole, and John L. Safko, Classical Mechanics (3rd Edition) (Addison Wesley, 2002; ISBN 0201657023; QA 805.G6)
  • Walter Greiner, Classical Mechanics: Systems of Particles and Hamiltonian Dynamics (Springer, 2003; ISBN 0-387-95128-8)
  • Walter Greiner, Classical Mechanics: Point Particles and Relativity (Springer, 2004; ISBN 0-387-95586-0)
  • Harold J W Müller-Kirsten, Classical Mechanics and Relativity (World Scientific, 2008; ISBN-10: 981-283-252-1)
  • Cornelius Lanczos, The Variational Principles of Mechanics (4th Edition) (Dover Publications, 1986; ISBN 0486650677; QA 845.L3)
  • Keith R. Symon, Mechanics (3'rd Edition) (Addison-Wesley, 1971; ISBN 0-201-07392-7)


Assessment Weight
Assignments 20%
Midterm test 30%
Final examination 50%

The assignments will be handed out and submitted in class. No assignments will be accepted after the posting of the solutions on the course webpage. Submitted assignment solutions must show calculational details, be legible, and written with a logical flow. Marks on assignments will rapidly trend to zero if not presented well.

If you miss the midterm examination due to illness or compassionate reasons, you need to provide the instructor with a waiver slip. See your Program Counsellor if you require assistance. If you miss the final examination, see your Program Counsellor. Please refer to “General Information for Academic Consideration and Appeals” in the 2014/15 Undergraduate Calendar.

Course Policies

(Not) Working With Other Students

All work submitted for grading in this course must be each individual student's own work. While students are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas, it is not acceptable to share assignment solutions. The assignments are not group projects.


I will be happy to answer questions in my office (MacN 220). I do not keep office hours per se, but have an open door policy; if my office door is open (the majority of the time), I am willing to see students and answer questions. Short questions can often be handled in the lecture room just before or after lectures.

Midterm test: To be scheduled in an evening in Week 6
Final Examination: Thursday April 16th, 19:00 Location: TBA

Course Assessment

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students
(choosing "I agree" in question 14). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

NOTE: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.


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  • emailing the Human Rights and Equity Office (HREO) at
  • filling in the feedback box on the University’s accessibility website available at
  • calling the HREO at extension 53000 (or TTY users can call 1-800-267-6511)
  • visiting the HREO at 15 University Ave. East, between 8:45 am and 4:45 pm, Monday to Friday