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PHYS 508, Fall 2017

9:30 to 10:50 Monday, Wednesday, Room 136 Loomis Laboratory.

This web-page contains links to documents such as handouts and other useful stuff. These files are now only in PDF (.pdf) format.

Syllabus Outline

The course covers four related areas:

Homework Sets

There are 11 weekly homework sets that will count towards the final grade, and one end-of-term set of optional problems. Your solutions sets must be deposited in the Phys 508 homework box before 5pm on the due date, which will always be a Monday.

Homework number 1, due Tuesday Sept 5th.
Solutions 1

Homework number 2, due monday Sept 11th.
Solutions 2

Homework number 3, due Monday Sept 18th.
Solutions 3

Homework number 4, due Monday Oct 2nd.
Solutions 4

Homework number 5, due Monday Oct 9th.
Solutions 5

Homework number 6, due Monday Oct 16th.
Solutions 6

Homework number 7, due Monday Oct 23rd.
Solutions 7

Homework number 8, due Monday Oct 30th.
Solutions 8

Homework number 9, due Monday Nov 6th.
Solutions 9

Homework number 10, due Monday Nov 13th.
Solutions 10

Homework number 11 due Monday Nov 27th
Solutions 11

Homework number 12, Further optional problems.


The midterm will be in class, probably on November 6th. It will cover everything up to the end of chapter 5.

The final exam will be 7-10pm, Friday Dec 15, in our usual room 136LLP. It will cover everything.

Some old exams for you to review:

Midterm Exam, Fall 2013

Final Exam, Fall 2003

Final Exam, Fall 2014


I recommend (but do not require) that you purchase Mathematics for Physics: A guided tour for graduate students by myself and Paul Goldbart. (Cambridge University Press 2009). The list price is $90, but Amazon has it for $74 (+shipping). I do not yet know what the UI bookstore is selling it for. This book is an expanded version of the lecture notes for both PHYS 508 and PHYS 509. Here is a list of typos and outright errors that readers have found in the printed text.

As a cheaper alternative you can buy Mathematics for Physicists by Phillipe Dennery and Andre Krzywicki (Dover Publications, $12.95) as an alternative textbook. It covers a fair bit of the material in this course, and will be useful for the complex-variable part of PHYS 509.

A set of online lecture notes is still available for download, but, now that the book is published, I am no longer maintaining them, so typos are not being corrected.

Grades and Gradebook

Registered students may access the on-line gradebook by using your university username and password. You will need to accept cookies, and have JavaScript turned on for the gradebook to work.

Your grade in the course will be determined as from your total scores weighted as follows: Homework 50%, Midterm exam 20%, Final Exam 30%.

Cultural Enrichment Links

Some of the material in the course is supposed to introduce you to the wider culture of mathematical physics and its applications in the real world. Here are links relating to some of the topics discussed:


Finding me:
Office: 2117 ESB.
Phone: 3-2891.
My office hour is Moday 8-9am, outside 2117 ESB (Tuesday on Sept 6th) .


Tianci Zhou
Office hour: Friday 3-4pm
Location: ESB/MRL third floor open area

Pak-On Chan
Office hour: Friday 4-5pm
Location: ESB/MRL third floor open area

Last updated 06/06/2016