Computation and Problem Solving in Undergraduate Physics

Computation and Problem Solving in Undergraduate Physics (CPSUP) is a flexible text providing instruction in the use of computer-based symbolic and numerical approaches to problems in several areas of physics. The book includes descriptions of the main capabilities and features of several computational tools (IDL, MATLAB, OCTAVE, PYTHON, MAXIMA, MAPLE, MATHEMATICA, PROGRAMMING, FORTRAN, LSODE, MUDPACK, C, NUMERICAL RECIPES, LaTeX, and TGIF—though particular versions of CPSUP will typically include only a subset of these tools) and additional chapters illustrating the application of these tools to solving ordinary differential equations, evaluating integrals, finding roots, and (coming) solving partial differential equations via finite difference and finite element methods. Appendices introduce LaTeX, a sophisticated text-processing tool well adapted to preparing technical manuscripts, and TGIF, a UNIX-based program for creating elaborate two-dimensional figures. Physical examples are drawn from mechanics, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and several other areas.

The curricular development out of which this book has arisen has been guided since the mid 1970's by Professor David M. Cook and has been carried out in the Department of Physics at Lawrence University, a nationally-ranked liberal arts college and Conservatory of Music with about 1500 students located in Appleton, Wisconsin. A detailed description of that project can be found in Professor Cook's article "Computation in Undergraduate Physics: The Lawrence Approach," Am. J. Phys. 76, 321–326 (April–May, 2008). This theme issue of the American Journal of Physics was published in conjunction with a Gordon Conference held 8–13 June 2008 on the topic "Computation and Computer-Based Instruction."

Other contributions by Professor Cook:

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Detailed Description of Project: Strengthening Computation in Undergraduate Physics Programs

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