U.S. Particle Accelerator School

MATLAB for Physics course

Sponsoring University:

University of New Mexico


MATLAB for Physics


Dan Green, Fermilab

Purpose and Audience
With the advent of personal computing and tools such as MATLAB and Mathematica, it has become much easier to study numerically complex problems in physics, specifically the time evolution of systems. Examples from mechanics, electrodynamics, special relativity, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics will be examined. The aim is not to teach physics from first principles, but rather to display solutions and then have the student explore the effect of changes to the problem and build up an intuitive feel for the solutions. A menu allows the student to “morph” the given solutions. This course is designed for graduate students or advanced undergraduates.


Courses in classical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics and mathematics.

Students should bring their own laptop computer to the school. Please contact the USPAS if you are not able to do so.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

On completion of this course, the students are expected to better understand the physical principles covered. The materials available will enable the students to execute and/or write MATLAB script in order to explore after the completion of the course.

Instructional Method
This course includes a series of lectures and exercise sessions. Homework problems will be assigned which will be graded and answers provided in the exercise sessions. A final project will be executed by each student by creating MATLAB script (template supplied) to explore a specific topic.

Course Content
Numerical modeling of physics processes in MATLAB, including use of MATLAB symbolic math and visualization tools.

Computer Requirements
Students should bring their own laptop computer to the school. Please contact the USPAS if you are not able to do so.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) "One Hundred Physics Visualizations Using MATLAB”, by Dan Green. World Scientific 2013.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on the following performances: Final project (30%), Homework assignments (70%).

IU/USPAS course: Physics 671