Computer Usage for Phy 262 HW (updated for 2021)
CODING: This course will require you to write computer code.You will evaluate formulae, plot results, solve some simple (coupled) differential equations and probably find the minimum of a multivariable function or two. HW0 (posted here) is not an official class assignemnt, but stepping through those simple problems is a way to make sure you have figured out how to start using these tools for the class. Also, the subsequent HW will build on the code you write for HW0 (to do calculations that are actually relevant to cosmology).
LANGAGE: In the past I have required students to do their 262 HW using Matlab.This is the only language (besides Fortran!) I know well enough to help students learn. And some years ago problems arose when I let students stick to their language of choice.This year I have again dropped the requirement that the HW be done in Matlab. But PLEASE stick to Matlab if you are not confident you can do all of the abovementioned activities in your other language of choice. If you do not choose Matlab your options for assistance will be more limited. In addition to being able to help you during office hours with Matlab, I’ll have extra “hand holding” for Matlab users built into the HW (as you can see in HW0). If you choose a language other than Matlab, if you become impossibly stuck with the coding aspects (which is the sort of problem I have seen in the past) you will be responsible digging yourself out with out my help.
NOTE ADDED RE LANGUAGES: For 2021, our TA, Arsalan Adil, has experience with Mathematica and Python. He does NOT recommend Python for the full range of calculations planned for this class (he is especially concerned about the quality of differential equation solving in Python), but he will be able to support you to some degree with these languages during his office hour, assuming you already have a good level of experience with them. ADDED INFO from 3/29/21: Arsalan as provided these extensive notes regarding computer languages.
COMPUTERS: If you do not know what computer (such as your own laptop) you would use for 262 HW please let me know ASAP and we can investigate what is available on the departmental student computers.