Computational physics course notes online

March 18, 2007

The lecture notes of an upper-division Introduction to Computational Physics course in html and pdf formats:

A complete set of lecture notes for an upper-division computational physics course. Topics covered include scientific programming in C, the numerical solution of ordinary and partial differential equations, particle-in-cell codes, and Monte Carlo methods.

I especially liked the programming methodology adopted in the course, namely,

…write our own programs–completely from scratch–in a high-level language.

And, what is more, I liked the choice of programming language much more:

Of the above languages, we can immediately rule out C++, because object-orientation is an unnecessary complication (at least, for our purposes), and FORTRAN 90, because of the absence of an inexpensive compiler. The remaining options are FORTRAN 77 and C. I have chosen to use C (augmented by some of the useful, non-object-orientated features of C++) in this course, simply because I find the archaic features of FORTRAN 77 too embarrassing to teach students in the 21st century.

And, whatever little I read of the lecture notes I liked too. Take a look!

PS:- For those of you coming from a physics background, there are also other lecture notes of Prof. Richard Fitzpatrick that are available online here.


2 Responses to “Computational physics course notes online”

  1. G Phanikumar Says:

    Hi Guru

    There are several of good, free Fortran90 compilers. I suppose inexpensive means free. Have a look at for a host of such free and good compilers available for literaly all platforms. In my page, I have also listed some myths about fortran. I was compiling octave to work on my AMD64 m/c the otherday and was surprised to find a huge amount of code to be in fortran.


  2. Guru Says:

    Dear Phani,

    Nice to see you around; and, thanks for the pointers.

    It is possible that Prof. Fitzpatrick gave his course quite a while back when there weren’t many free Fortran compilers around.

    I also remember Saswata using the Intel Fortran compiler back at IISc.

    By the way, when I said I liked the choice of programming language, I only meant that I am quite comfortable going through code written in C.

    Finally, for the benefit of the readers of this blog, I am linking here to your Fortran page (which is great by the way, and, I hope you are planning to add more goodies to the same).

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