The  seeker


PHYS 508, Fall 2020

9:30 to 10:50. Online Only: Zoom invites will be issued to registered students.

Intructor: Professor Michael Stone

This web-page contains links to documents such as homework sets and other useful material.

Syllabus Outline

The course covers four related areas:

Homework Sets

We will be using the commercial program Gradescope to handle homeworks and exams. You should register for a Gradescope account at the start of the course. 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 uploaded to Gradescope before 9am on the due date, which will usually be before class time on wednesday. While I recommend you to use TeX/LateX to write up your solutions (you will need to learn TeX at some point in your studies), you can also submit scans of handwritten work provided that they are legible. The Gradescope pages have advice on how to use your phone to scan your solutions.

Homework number 1, due Wed Sept 2st.
Solutions 1

Homework number 2, due Wed Sept 9th.
Solutions 2

Homework number 3, due Wed Sept 16th.
Solutions 3

Homework number 4, due Wed Sep 30th.
Solutions 4

Homework number 5, due Wed Oct 7th.
Solutions 5

Homework number 6, due Wed Oct 14th.
Solutions 6

Homework number 7, due Wed Oct 21st.
Solutions 7

Homework number 8, due Wed Nov 11 th. <--New Date!
Solutions 8

Homework number 9, due Wed Nov 18th.
Solutions 9

Homework number 10, due Wed Dec 2nd.
Solutions 10

Homework number 11 due Wed Dec 09th
Solutions 11

Homework number 12, Further optional problems.


The midterm will be Monday November 2nd. There will be a review session during the class the previous Wednesday. We will use an "honour system" rather than proctoring. I will release the exam on Gradescope on sunday evening, and close it at midnight monday. You can choose any two hours during that period to work on the problems. I will ask you, on your honour, to work it as a closed book exam and to spend no more that 2 hours on it. The exam will cover everything up to the end of chapter 5.

The final exam will will cover everything. Date and time to be announced.

Some old exams for you to review:

Midterm Exam, Fall 2013

Final Exam, Fall 2003

Final Exam, Fall 2014

Textbook and Notes

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 $72 (+shipping). I do not yet know what the UI bookstore is selling it for. (I do not recommend the Kindle version of the Book. The equations do not scale correctly.) Our 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.

A draft version of the book is still available for download, but, now that it is published, I am no longer maintaining this version, so typos are not being corrected.

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

Here are the brief calculus notes mentioned in the first lecture.

Grades and Gradebook

Students usually access the on-line gradebook. Some data will still be in that location. However this semester all grades will be in Gradescope.

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 Tuesday 8-9am. I will send zoom invites at the start of the course. If this time is inconvenient for you send me an email and I will schedule an appointment at another time.


Destry Newton
He will send a zoom invite.

Last updated Aug/11/2019