Spring 2022 - PHYS 395 LA01

Computational Physics (3)

Class Number: 7591

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    SSCP 9416, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2022
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    RCB 5120, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    MATH 260 or MATH 310; PHYS 255; CMPT 120 or equivalent. All prerequisite courses require a minimum grade of C-.



Computer-based approaches to solving complex physical problems. Includes topics such as Monte-Carlo and molecular dynamics techniques applied to thermal properties of materials; dynamical behavior of systems, including chaotic motion; methods for ground state determination and optimization, including Newton-Raphson, simulated annealing, neural nets, and genetic algorithms: symplectic methods; and analysis of numerical data. Quantitative.


This course will cover the application of numerical methods to a range of physics problems.  Python will be the language of choice for the course.  The planned topics are:

·        Random number generation

·        Linear algebra (solving linear equations, least square fits, Cholesky and singular value decompositions)

·        Spectral methods

·        Root finding and optimization

·        Solving ordinary differential equations (integration methods, initial vs. boundary value problems)

·        Solving partial differential equations

·        Molecular dynamics

·        Monte Carlo simulations

·        Neural networks

·        Parallel computing and running on GPUs
·        Quantum computing and running on a QPU




Course work will be carried out in class by developing code to solve assigned problems for a given week’s topic.  These weekly assignments will constitute 50% of the grade.  The last 4 weeks of the course will be devoted to the investigation of two computational physics projects in depth.  These two projects will be worth 25% each.

·        Weekly assigned work  (50%)

·        2 projects (2 x 25% = 50%)

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, within one week of the final exam schedule being posted.

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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this 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 spring 2022 term.