Special Topics in Computational Physics (PHYS*7730)

Code and section: PHYS*7730*01

Term: Fall 2023


General Information

Special Topics in Computational Physics
Fall 2023

Calendar Description

PHYS*7730  Special Topics in Physics  Unspecified  [0.50]  
Department(s): Department of Physics  
Location(s): Guelph  

For Course Instructor, Class Time and Location, please check CourseLink.


Expected Background

I expect that all students will have some familiarity with basic numerical methods (e.g., Gaussian elimination, Simpson’s rule, Euler’s method), typically provided in an undergraduate course on computational physics. Programming-related examples and assignments will be in Python, but I will not cover basic programming in the lectures. This is a graduate course, so the assignments will be correspondingly challenging.


Required textbook


Lecture Content

This is a special-topics course on what is known as computational science or scientific computing. We will focus on the interplay between science problem, mathematical formulation, and computational implementation. Previous exposure to Python programming is required. My current plan is to discuss selected aspects of:

  • Floating-point numbers
  • Automatic differentiation
  • Eigenproblems and the SVD
  • Multidimensional minimization
  • The fast Fourier transform
  • Bayesian and nonlinear regression
  • Gauss-Legendre quadrature
  • The Metropolis algorithm
  • ODEs and PDEs



The course evaluation will consist of homework assignments (some of which may not be graded) worth 60% of the final mark and a scheduled final exam (worth 40%).


Office Hours

By appointment.

University Statements

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the Undergraduate Calendar for information on regulations and procedures for academic consideration.

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University’s policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff  and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community’s shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as soon as possible.

E-mail Communication 

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their uoguelph.ca e-mail account regularly. E-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

Course Evaluation

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 areas of improvement. In addition, student assessments provide part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member’s contributions in the area of teaching. You are therefore encouraged to take the evaluation procedures seriously, and to provide feedback about this course and its instructor.

Drop date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is 1 December 2023. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.