Courses Which Computer Science Course to Help in Computational Physics

  1. I'm doing a computational emphasis at my university and since it is as I said an emphasis not a lot of classes are required for it. I look at other schools that offer a BS in computational physics and they require a lot more CS classes. What I'm looking for is some advice in which CS or EE courses I should take that might help me in computational physics. I've taken computer science I and an introduction to data structures course, I guess that'll be computer science II in some schools. I'm taking a machine language(programming) class over the summer. I'm taken what would be the equivalent of discrete math, discrete math is given in the CS department, I took mine in the math department. And I'm taking a numerical methods course. I've also taken an intro to computational physics and will be taking the advance course in the fall. I'm also currently taking numerical methods. There is a computer graphics class also being offered in the fall but I don't know how well that might help me with computational physics, maybe in simulations? Any help is welcomed and appreciated.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. try taking a class on Numerical Methods (what its called at my university)
    i imagine a class on solving differential equations numerically would be very useful
  4. Taking numerical methods this semester.
  5. A course in Algorithms & Data structures, especially Parallel algorithms would be handy.
  6. Data structures and a good statistics class. I feel that an algorithms class might be overkill. I worked in computational physics and I mostly used statistics, monte carlo especially, also many numerical methods of PDE's. We had three CS people working there and they jumped in if we had any problems with the algorithm type stuff. I highly doubt that a job would require someone to do the CS-type work along with the physics work. The physicists that I worked with focused on the models almost exclusively, they would never sacrifice the completeness of the model for a more efficient program. That was mostly my job. Getting dirty and working in the trenches, lol.

    When you say for computational physics, what are you envisioning that you'll be doing?
  7. One thing to look at is if the machine language course goes very heavily into computer architecture. If it's a "this is what an L1 cache is" then it's useful. If it is "this is how to run an assembler" it's not.

    It's going to be useful because

    1) there is a huge amount of stuff going on in GPU programming
    2) some of the algorithms that are used in graphics turn out to be really useful in physics.

  8. I envision that I'll be mostly programming simulations and models of a system. Some of the topics we saw in my elementary computational physics class were orbits of a planet and motion of a pendulum, bot harmonic and non harmonic. It wasn't a difficult class. The book the professor wrote had a lot of the code already in it.
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