Fall 2020 - PHYS 384 D100

Methods of Theoretical Physics I (3)

Class Number: 1029

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2020
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM

  • Prerequisites:

    MATH 252 or 254; MATH 260 or MATH 310; PHYS 211; PHYS 255 or ENSC 320. All prerequisite courses require a minimum grade of C-.



Applications of mathematical methods in physics, differential equations of physics, eigenvalue problems, solutions to wave equations. Quantitative.



· Applications of complex variables, contour integrals, dispersion relations, steepest descent

· One dimensional scalar fields, initial and boundary value problems, vibrating strings, infinite strings, energy flow, damped and forced oscillations, Green’s function technique in 1-dimension, Dirac δ-function

· Two dimensional scalar fields, rectangular, circular and wedge shaped membranes, normal modes, temperature distributions in a circular annulus, introduction to Bessel functions

· Three dimensional scalar and vector fields of physics, propagation of electro- magnetic and sound waves, heat flow, neutron diffusion, temperature distribution in a solid sphere, spherical Bessel functions and spherical harmonics, expansion of plane waves, Green’s function techniques in three dimensions

· Problems of mathematical physics with continuous spectra, integral transform techniques, wave packets

· Calculus of variations

Course delivery:
Lectures will be synchronous, interactive and recorded, with the recordings made available for viewing on Canvas. Notes will be posted on Canvas after the lectures.
Tutorials will be synchronous and interactive.
Midterms (dates to be announced) will be synchronous, during class time.
Final exam will be synchronous, date to be announced.  (Final exam period is Dec 9 -20)
All testing will be invigilated via video monitoring. Details to be provided prior to testing.
Homework will be posted on Canvas. Students will submit by uploading their solutions.

Expectation for participation

The attendance of the lectures and tutorials is optional, but students are encouraged and expected to attend.
The attendance of the midterms and the final exam is mandatory.


  • Problem Sets 40%
  • Two Midterms 20% each 40%
  • Final exam 20%



Required Textbook

“Mathematical Physics”, E. Butkov

SFU Course pack: Mathematical Physics


Author: Butkov

Additional helpful texts

“Mathematical Methods for Physicists”, G. B. Arfken and H. J. Weber

“Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences”, Mary L. Boas

Required computer resources:

• reliable high-speed internet access

• computer or tablet with a webcam and microphone

• ability to upload images of written homework

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).