Fall 2008 Lecture: Tu. & Thurs. 9:30 - 10:45 AM , PandA 184 Daniel Finley
  (P451-054) Problem Session: Tues.: 7:00 - 8:50 PM , PandA 184  
Lagrange (1736-1813)  Isaac Newton (1642-1727)  Hamilton (1805-1865)

Introduction to the Class

This is the beginning of a 2-semester general introduction to phenomena associated with the name classical mechanics,
which includes at least Newton's, Lagrange's, and Hamilton's approaches to oscillatory motions, two-body motions, and rotational motion of rigid bodies,
as well as the more modern studies of nonlinear mechanics and chaotic motion.

We will use a recently-published text which seems quite good, with a good mix of the very classical parts of our subject combined with introductions to the modern research still continuing on nonlinear problems:

    Classical Mechanics,    John R. Taylor;     published by University Science Books.
   This publisher has an interesting website,, although
when you get there you must still do a title search for our particular text.
Over the course of the two semesters we plan to cover all the 16 chapters of the text, as well as two or three interesting topics that I will pull from other places.
For this first semester, the goal is the first 9 chapters, plus the first half of chapter 13.
The class introduction contains a rather detailed description of the text, of the way the class will proceed, the details of the homework assignments, the Bonus Homework, the examinations, and the grading system.
The course Syllabus is a week-by-week description of what I currently believe the schedule of the course will be, including the timing of all the exams, which are given during the time of the problem session, on Tuesday evening. In particular, you should use this Syllabus as a reading guide for your text,
being very sure to read the material in the text BEFORE the lecture, and then again afterwards, always noting any questions you have, so that you can ask for answers to them.

My Office: Physics & Astronomy Bldg., 800 Yale Boulevard, Room 168
Telephone:     277-8799 ;     email:

Office Hours:
The class has a Teaching Assistant, Prabhakar Palni, who will also help with the nighttime Problem Sessions, and the grading of homework problems.
He will be available for discussions and/or questions, holding office hours, in his office, Room 1154, from 11 to 12 noon on Fridays.
You may also send him email by clicking here, suggesting an alternate time and place for you to meet with him.

The problem session, P. 451-054, is very important, and you must take it as well; it is 1 credit hour and is graded CR/NC.
It will be very important for help with the problems, and especially with mathematical difficulties that you may have.
I will use some of that time to provide help for you with new mathematical applications,
which you may not recall well from your mathematics classes,
and for some help with using computer programs to numerically solve differential equations and create graphical output.
Also note that the examinations are given at this time, on those 4 days when we have exams.

Below are comments concerning requirements for the course. Please see the course information webpage for much more information:

Links to the homework solutions are provided on the homework assignment pages. They should be available after the class in which you have turned them in.

Some of the homework problems will require the use of computer software capable of creating numerical solutions to differential equations, creating good plots, and of performing algebraic computations for ordinary and matrix algebra, such as MATLAB, Maple, or Mathematica.
I will be giving yet additional help sessions, with Maple and/or MATLAB, for those who need help with these techniques.

Links will be inserted below to various "demonstrations" shown in class, on the computer:

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  Last updated/modified: 9 September, 2008

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