Fall 2020 - PHYS 255 D100

Vibrations and Waves (3)

Class Number: 1026

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 19, 2020
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • 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 synchronous and interactive. They may be recorded, if needed, with the recordings made available for viewing on canvas. 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 synchronous and interactive. They may be recorded (to be decided by the class).

Students will submit written assignments by uploading to crowdmark.

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)

Required Resources:

  • Reliable high-speed internet access
  • Computer or tablet with webcam and microphone
  • Ability to upload images of written assignments (i.e. smartphone or tablet)

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 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).