Intermediate Theoretical Methods

University of Maryland, Spring 2008
Instructor: Ted Jacobson
Room 4115 (Physics Bldg.), 301-405-6020,,
Office hours: After class, or by appointment.
Class meetings: WF 1:00-2:50pm, Room PHY 1402
Grader:  Abraham Sahilemeskel, Room 3101, 301-405-6194,

Textbook: A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences, 2nd Edition
by Roel Snieder,  Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (September 23, 2004)
ISBN: 0521834929

Course content:  Conversational mathematics for physics students.
Math topics: dimensional analysis, series expansions, approximation, 1-d calculus, vector calculus, partial differential equations, complex analysis, Fourier series, linear algebra.
Physics applications:  mechanics, Maxwell's equations, fluid mechanics, vibrations and waves, quantum mechanics.

Course web site :   Homework assignments, class notes, supplements, and solutions will all be posted at the course web site, .

E-mail:    I encourage students to make use of e-mail for quick correspondence with me regarding lecture material, homework problems, or whatever. I will also use e-mail to communicate with the class at large. I can often be reached at night or on weekends by email. Students are responsible for making sure I have their correct email address and checking their email daily. Important messages will sometimes be sent to the class by email.

Homework Policies:  

Exams:  Three exams, the  third one given at the time of the final exam.
Grading: The course grade will be based on the homework and  exams. The lowest two homework scores will be dropped. The exam grades will be uniformly "shifted upwards" if I deem necessary. The relative weights will  be adjusted at the end of the semester to maximize the total for each student, with the homework in the range 25 +/- 5%, and each of the three exams in the  range 25 +/- 10%. The letter  grades corresponding to numerical scores will be determined after reviewing the class performance as a whole. Spring 2007 worked out this way (apart from +/-): A: 88-105, B: 79-86, C: 62-75, D: 42-58.  (The previous year the lowest C was 67.)  For the details, see  Especially interesting is the correlation between homework and total grades.

Tips for doing well :

Academic honesty:  The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized  Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students.  As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course.  It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of  Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

The University has adopted an Honor Pledge, which is a statement undergraduate and graduate students are asked to write by hand and sign on examinations, papers, or other academic assignments not specifically exempted by the instructor. The Pledge reads: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination." In this course it is assumed that all students have entered the University agreeing to the honor principle which would apply in general to all campus activities, so usually no specific statement is required. As for this course in particular, note that although you are encouraged to discuss homework with others, the work you turn in should be your own formulation and should reflect your own understanding. This is perhaps a fine line to judge in some cases. Please ask Dr. Jacobson if you have any questions. Also, it is strictly forbidden to make any use of solutions from previous classes.