UniServe Science News Volume 17 November 2000

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Scientific Computing PHYS 3301

Lawrence Cram, School of Physics, The University of Sydney

This course (Scientific Computing PHYS 3301) is designed to give third year science and engineering students an opportunity to learn some of the basic techniques of scientific computing.

Scientific computing requires that the student develop a number of distinct but related skills. Working in scientific computing the students will need to be:

  • a scientist - applying the scientific method to formulate problems or hypotheses;
  • a mathematician - expressing problems in the language of mathematics;
  • a systems engineer - designing a logical process for 'solving' the mathematical problem;
  • a programmer/coder - converting this design into an effective computer program;
  • a graphic artist - portraying your work so that you and others can understand it; and once again
  • a scientist - interpreting the outcome in terms of the original scientific problems or hypotheses.

As part of the course assessment, students are expected to demonstrate that they have achieved competencies in aspects of computing that are considered necessary in scientific computing. These skills include:

  • the paper or web-based publishing of mathematical expressions and graphic material;
  • creating working scripts or programs using a variety of programming languages or packages; and
  • formulating and solving scientific problems requiring the use of statistics, calculus, matrices, equations or simulation.

A complete list of competencies can be found at http://physics.usyd.edu.au/coll/2000cram.html.

An essential part of the course is the requirement that students post their work on a web site for peer review and discussion prior to assessment. Examples of student pages from semester 1 this year can be found at http://www.vislab.usyd.edu.au/sc3/.

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UniServe Science News Volume 17 November 2000

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