Mike McCracken, PHY 250L Computational Physics Lab
Students will compete in groups to complete computational tasks relevant to the physical/quantitative sciences. Students will research and program their own algorithm for each of six tasks (events) including efficient sorting and statistical measures, visualizing large datasets, approximation techniques, curve fitting and extrapolation, and differential-equation solving. The course introduces students to some of the foundational components of computation.. To simulate the application of these skills to open-ended problems from professional research, the project will culminate in a competition, the Scientific Computation Hexathlon, to take place on May 2 in the lovely new Library Classroom. Each group will be required to submit a solution for each event, with a winner decided based on computation time, accuracy, and elegance of visualization (per event). Successful groups will expand on basic techniques by researching (with the guidance of Library staff) and implementing novel approaches — creativity and iterative, collaborative design will be necessary. Each group will also give a ten-minute presentation on their solution to one of the tasks, aimed at an audience of quantitatively-competent novice programmers. Students will gain important experience with deadlines, project management, and presenting technical information to a non-expert audience. The competition and presentations are open to the public; please join us on the 2nd! (There will be soft pretzels.)
Assisted by Ronalee Ciocco.