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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Computational Physics II
Module Code PS520
School School of Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Miles Turner
Semester 2: Miles Turner
Autumn: Miles Turner
Module TeachersMiles Turner
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination

This module introduces research students to the concepts and techniques of computational physics, in the context of studies in physical sciences. In particular, students should understand that the method proceeds by (i) identifying a suitable physical model expressed in mathematical terms, (ii) finding an algorithm by which the model can be solved, (iii) implementing the solution, and (iv) calculating the desired results. In addition to this basic approach, the module will also discuss modern ideas about the challenges of establishing that the correct solution has been found, and the opportunities and difficulties of exploiting high performance computer hardware for large scale problems. The continuous assessment element of the module will include practical exercises, which will assume a working knowledge of a suitable computer language, such as Python or MatLab.

Learning Outcomes

1. Develop and articulate a systematic understanding of knowledge at, or informed by, the forefront of research both qualitatively, and quantitatively of the fundamental and underpinning elements of the computational approach.
2. Demonstrate this systematic understanding by developing and articulating a mathematical model in a form suitable for computational solution.
3. Select from complex and advanced techniques across this field of learning to identify suitable tools for generating the computational solution (e.g. algorithms, computer languages, hardware).
4. Demonstrate this systematic understanding and also demonstrate a critical awareness of the main issues and modern insights around establishing that the computed solutions are correct, based on modern ideas on verification and validation.
5. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the challenges and opportunities of high performance computation for large scale problems.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture248 x 3 hour workshops – 24 hours total
Tutorial66 x tutorials – 6 hours total
Independent Study95Study for lectures (24 hours), study for tutorials (6 hours), work on design and implementation of computational solutions for assessment problems (problem 1 - 15 hours; problem 2 - 15 hours; problem 1 - 15 hours), preparation for examination (20 hours).
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Basic Concepts
General ideas on the role of computation in the physical sciences. The process of developing a computational model, from mathematical formulation to developing and testing the solution. Ideas about critical evaluation of solutions.

Mathematical Models
Formulation of mathematical models, beginning with conceptualising a physical model and proceeding to a formal mathematical model, including identifying relevant boundary conditions and parameters.

Computational Tools
Choosing a computational approach based on the mathematical character of the model. Algorithms for ordinary and partial differential equations. Monte Carlo methods.

Software Tools
Computer languages for scientific problems. Libraries and other software packages.

Verification and Validation
Criticism of the computational approach. Recent ideas on establishing the correctness of scientific computations and physical models.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment50% Examination Weight50%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentDesigning and implementing a computational solution to a problem involving an ordinary differential equation10%n/a
AssignmentDesigning and implementing a computational solution to a problem involving Monte Carlo techniques10%n/a
AssignmentDesigning and implementing a computational solution to a problem relating to the research student’s own research project30%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 2
Indicative Reading List

  • William H. Press... [et al.]: 2007, Numerical recipes, Cambridge University Press, New York, 978-0521880688
  • William L. Oberkampf, Christopher J. Roy,: 2010, Verification and Validation in Scientific Computing, Cambridge, 9780521113601
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
CHPMMaster of Science
PYPMMaster of Science

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