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Summer Projects, Suggestions?

  1. Apr 15, 2008 #1

    Well since its almost nearing summer. I was planning on doing something constructive for it ... do you have any suggestions as to what I could do?

    Well as of now, the only thing I feel I know a bit about is Programming, is there some way I could use my programming knowledge to unite the courses I've taken?

    The courses I took this year are:
    -Intro to Biology, Intro to Chemistry
    -Physics : Electricity/ Magnetism and EM Waves (One-course) / Mechanics
    -Math : Linear Algebra / Introductory Calculus (Integration & Differenciation) / Differential Equations and Infinite Series
    -Programming : Introductory C++ ( covered arrays / file-input/output / functions / simulation(lot much) )

    Rather than just learning something, I'd like to do something (while learning?) this way I can create something too cause otherwise when I just learn something I feel I forget it after a while and need to brush up again on it.

    I'm looking to really do something alone rather than speak with a professor, as I think I don't really have enough knowledge to help-out a professor and I'd really hate to keep asking them for direction.

    Any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2008 #2


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    you can learn yourself more about C++ and see if you can find something about computational science projects. Otherwise I have a cool project for you to learn object oriented programming, but the instructions only exists in swedish :(

    But you can search abit on course pages for obejct oriented programming in your language if you like.

    Thats my tips if you want to learn more about programming.

    Maybe have a look at another type of language, like script programming? (Pyton, pearl)
  4. Apr 15, 2008 #3

    Dr. Courtney

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    Learn to numerically integrate the differential equations that represent some simple (but non-trivial) dynamical systems. Investigate how the dynamics changes as parameters are tweaked. The three-body gravitational system can be interesting, depending on the relative masses. A single particle moving in a -1/(r + a) + bz potential is also interesting.

    There are a lot of non-separable two dimensional potentials that are fun projects.

    Michael Courtney
  5. Apr 16, 2008 #4
    I second the idea to keep learning c++ it will be an invaluable technique. If you can learn to use c++ to do numerical analysis that would be wonderful but it may be over your head. I myself do not know much about it as I use either Maple or Mathematica.

    You could also branch out into another programing language. An object oriented language would be best. Try Java on for size, if not that then perhaps python?

    Programing is a great skill to have, and being "fluent" in it is even better, and also more so if you can understand more than one language
  6. Apr 16, 2008 #5
    Hmm, thanks all for your replies

    Michael - I must confess I didn't quite understand your post (One of the reasons I didn't want to approach a professor ...)

    mgiddy - Hmm, yes I was considering Java as I hear its a 2nd year course ... seems like a good idea to work on this cause I think it will help exercise my logic ...
  7. Apr 16, 2008 #6
    coding in general helps your logic as you want to learn to write code that is logical and easy to read.

    Java will take some getting used to but I think (this is my opinion) you will feel that you have a lot more control or that it is a lot more powerful being object oriented. It certainly helps in organization and recycling as you learn to write separate classes for the tasks at hand. Those can easily be reused and reimplemented in other code later on.
  8. Apr 16, 2008 #7


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    Specimen : You can google the things that you dont understand. And you can ask in detail WHAT is you dont understand, instead of: "I didn't quite understand" then nothing more.
  9. Apr 17, 2008 #8
    One thing you can use to test your C++ knowledge is via topcoder ( http://www.topcoder.com ) . They hold approximately weekly competitions that take like an hour and a half where you are given a set of small problems that you must code a solution to. Check it out; I have been a member for years now, and it's a good way to keep sharp with C++.
  10. Apr 17, 2008 #9
    Malawi - First off thanks for your input earlier. I'm aware of the power of Google, I just confessed that it didn't really make much of any sense to me (without breaking it down and searching for answers) initially ... and it wasn't directed at you.

    mgiddy - True, I do feel I need to work on my logic, I checked the 2nd year course and it deals with Data Structures, I've heard of amazing applications for them like Data Mining et c ..
  11. Apr 17, 2008 #10
    I know you don't feel comfortable bugging a professor with questions, but you have to remember that it's their job. If they don't think they have anything that you can do without spending too much of their time guiding you, they'll tell you, no hard feelings. Eventually you'll find someone who's willing to help though.
  12. Apr 17, 2008 #11
    You should still go to a professor to find a project. It is their responsibility to give you something easy enough that you won't need constant help. Science is not done by solitary individuals in isolation. By not working with a professor, postdoc or their students you are throwing away a tremendous resource. Plus working on research under the supervision of a professor will go along ways when you need a reference in the future. A reference built on a research project where you were not just another face in the class will help a great, great deal.
  13. Apr 17, 2008 #12
    Will and David - thanks for your inputs, hmm ... allright lets see after my exams I will approach a few professors for sure. I'm not hesistant of being no, what I am more anxious about is being given a project and unable to complete it. Maybe, its just a stupid sub-conscious thing ... but I do feel I"m really slow at grasping concepts and since these people are going to be teaching me throughout the years, I'm a bit hesistant ... nonetheless, the point about having them as my reference later on is a solid one.
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