Syllabus & Schedule

This page contains the class syllabus, a weekly schedule for the semester, and some information on classical mechanics. The schedule below may adjust slightly.

The structure of each lecture will be to begin with any general questions about reading or homework, then a disussion about the teaser question from the prior class. Then we will cover the lesson of the day.

Classical mechanics is the oldest branch of physics, is amazingly useful in areas from mechanical engineering to biology to robotics. This course builds on an introductory classical mechanics course to (1) develop mathematical tools to treat more sophisticated problems, (2) introduce modern mathematical formulations of the theory (Lagrangian and Hamiltonian), and (3) expose you to core conceptual ideas of nonlinear systems and chaos. Importantly, this coure will involve a thorough training in how to mathematically formulate and solve complex physical situations, and to approach them in multiple ways. The course also is crucial for other subjects in physics: the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations are heavily used in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, and chaos provides a microscopic justification for the postulates of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.