PX14924 Mathematics for Physicists
Introductory description
All scientists use mathematics to state the basic laws and to analyze quantitatively and rigorously their consequences. The module introduces the concepts and techniques, which will be assumed by future modules. These include: complex numbers, functions of a continuous real variable, integration, functions of more than one variable and multiple integration.
Module aims
To revise relevant parts of the Alevel syllabus, to cover the mathematical knowledge to undertake first year physics modules, and to prepare for mathematics and physics modules in subsequent years.
Outline syllabus
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
Term 1
Vector algebra, scalar and vector product
Complex numbers: Algebra, Argand diagram, exp (iθ), De Moivre's theorem, roots
Introduction to differential equations: Ordinary with constant coefficients), complete solutions and boundary or initial conditions; how such equations arise; second order homogeneous linear differential equations with constant coefficients; use of complex numbers; first order differential equations: separation of variables; first order inhomogeneous equations with nonconstant coefficients; integrating factor method; inhomogeneous second order constant coefficient equations; particular integral and complementary function; applications within physics
Power Series: Convergence, ratio test and interval of convergence, Taylor Series and applications
Functions of two or more variables: Contours and crosssections; partial differentiation, Taylor series, maxima, minima and saddle points; introduction to partial differential equations; change of coordinates ((x,y)> (r,θ)); the gradient vector of functions of 2 and 3 variables
Term 2
Riemann Integral: Standard Integrals, use of change of variables; multiple Integrals, double integrals and volume under a surface; change of variable and change of order of integration; introduction to line, surface and volume integrals in physics
Fourier series: Conditions for convergence, orthogonality relations, computation of Fourier coefficients, examples. Periodic extensions; symmetric and antisymmetric functions; sine and cosine series; arbitrary periods. Parseval's theorem, Gibbs phenomenon
Linear algebra: Matrices, matrix addition and multiplication. Simultaneous linear equations and their solution by Gaussian elimination, rowreduced echelon form; idea of a linear map and relation to matrices. Determinants: Definition using cofactors and properties; inverse of a square matrix, conditions for its existence, adjugate matrix, relation to solution of simultaneous equations; efficiency of algorithms, LU decomposition; orthogonal, Hermitian and unitary matrices
Eigenvalues and characteristic equation; eigenvectors, their orthogonality for Hermitian matrices; similarity transformations, corresponding invariance of determinant and trace, use to diagonalise matrices
Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
 Discuss mathematical modelling and how this leads to descriptions using differential equations
 Explain the concept of a vector and carry out vector algebraic manipulations
 Explain the notion of a complex number and manipulate expressions involving complex numbers
 Solve some types of first and second order Ordinary Differential Equations.
 Explain the notion of convergence and obtain the interval of convergence of a series.
 Work with functions of more than one variable and with partial differentiation.
 Determine the gradient vector of a function of 2 and 3 variables.
 Deal with multiple integrals and know how to evaluate the volume of a three dimensional object
 Describe and evaluate line and surface integrals
 Discuss Fourier series and compute the Fourier coefficients of a function
 Work with elements of linear algebra including: matrices, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors and the diagonalisation of matrices.
Indicative reading list
KF Riley, MP Hobson and SJ Bence, Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering: a
Comprehensive Guide, CUP
View reading list on Talis Aspire
Subject specific skills
Mathematical methods including: Vectors, complex numbers, integration, Fourier methods and linear algebra
Transferable skills
Analytical, communication, problemsolving, selfstudy
Study time
Type  Required 

Lectures  60 sessions of 1 hour (25%) 
Seminars  18 sessions of 1 hour (8%) 
Private study  162 hours (68%) 
Total  240 hours 
Private study description
Working through lecture notes, solving problems, wider reading, discussing with others taking the module, revising for exams, practising on past exam papers
Costs
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group D1
Weighting  Study time  

Coursework Problems  15%  
Written solutions to weekly problems and computer tests 

3 hour online examination (January)  42%  
Written examination


3 hour online examination (Summer)  43%  
Written examination

Assessment group R
Weighting  Study time  

Online resit examination 1 (September)  50%  
Written examination


Online resit examination 2 (September)  50%  
Written examination

Feedback on assessment
Supervisors at weekly examples, tutors for written examinations
Courses
This module is Core for:
 Year 1 of UPXAF304 Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAF300 Undergraduate Physics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UPXAF303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAF3N1 Undergraduate Physics and Business Studies
 Year 1 of UPXAF3F5 Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UPXAF3FA Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (MPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAF3N2 Undergraduate Physics with Business Studies