Fall 2021 - PHYS 255 D100

Vibrations and Waves (3)

Class Number: 1804

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    BLU 10021, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PHYS 126 or PHYS 121 or PHYS 141, with a minimum grade of C-, or PHYS 102 with a minimum grade of B. Corequisite: MATH 251; MATH 232 or MATH 240. Recommended Corequisite: MATH 260 or MATH 310.



The physics of vibrations and waves. Topics include periodic motion, including free and forced oscillations, coupled oscillators, normal modes, and waves in one and higher dimensions. Quantitative.


1.     Free vibrations

2.     Damped vibrations

3.     Forced vibrations and resonance

4.     Superposition

5.     Free and forced anharmonic vibrations

6.     Coupled oscillators

7.     Non-dispersive waves

8.     Wave impedance, reflection from boundaries

9.     Standing waves

10.  Energy in waves

11.  Fourier analysis, modulation, Fourier transform

12.  Dispersion

13.  Evanescent waves

14.  Electromagnetic waves

15.  Polarization

16.  Plane waves at boundaries

17.  Diffraction

Course Delivery:

Lectures will be in-person. Notes will be posted on canvas after the lectures.

Participation will include canvas quizzes/polls during class (instead of i-Clickers) and active participation in tutorials.

Tutorials will be in-person.

Midterms (dates to be announced) will be during regular class time.


  • 5 midterm exams (i.e. 5x10%) 50%
  • 2 small projects 15%
  • Written Assignments 15%
  • Participation 10%
  • Answers to Reading Questions 10%



Required Textbook:

Walter Fox Smith, Waves and Oscillations: A Prelude to Quantum Mechanics (available online through the SFU library)

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students who cannot write their exam during the course's scheduled exam time must request accommodation from their instructor in writing, clearly stating the reason for this request, before the end of the first week of classes.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.