Introduction

Scientific computing has become an indispensable tool in many branches of research, and is vitally important for studying a wide range of physical and social phenomena. In this course we will examine the mathematical foundations of well-established numerical algorithms and explore their use through practical examples drawn from a range of scientific and engineering disciplines.

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Course information

A more detailed description of this information can be found in the course syllabus.

Lecturer
Chris H. Rycroft, chr@seas.harvard.edu. Office: Pierce Hall, Room 305.
Lectures
Tuesday & Thursday, 10am–11:30am in 60 Oxford Street, Room 330.
Teaching fellows
Nick Boffi, boffi@g.harvard.edu.
Jinsoo Kim, jinsookim@g.harvard.edu.
Matthew Holman, mholman@cfa.harvard.edu.
Yang Tian, yangtian@fas.harvard.edu.
Office hours
Matthew: Tuesday 5:30pm–7pm, in Northwest Building, Room B166.
Nick: Wednesday 1:30pm–3:30pm, in Maxwell–Dworkin, Room 119.
Jinsoo: Wednesday 5:30pm–7pm, in Pierce Hall, Room 320.
Chris: Thursday 3pm–4:30pm, in Pierce Hall, Room 305.
Yang: Thursday 5:30pm–7pm, in Geological Museum, Room 418.
Textbook
Scientific Computing: An Introductory Survey, by Michael T. Heath.
Homework
There will be five homework assignments, at roughly two week intervals. Homework assignments will be due on 5pm on Fridays in the dropbox on the course Canvas page. In addition, an introductory homework assignment 0 will be provided, which is ungraded but designed for you to refresh your familiarity with programming.
Homework policy
Discussion and the exchange of ideas are essential to doing academic work. For assignments in this course, you are encouraged to consult with your classmates as you work on problem sets. However, after discussions with peers, make sure that you can work through the problem yourself and ensure that any answers you submit for evaluation are the result of your own efforts. In addition, you must cite any books, articles, websites, lectures, etc that have helped you with your work using appropriate citation practices. Similarly, you must list the names of students with whom you have collaborated on problem sets.
Exam
There will be one 48 h take-home midterm exam, posted on the website at 5pm on Thursday November 10th and due at 5pm on Saturday November 12th. (Note that November 11th is Veterans Day, which is a university holiday, but only for staff. Special dispensations will be made for any students who prefer not to take the exam on this date.)
Grades
The final grade will be based on homework assignments (60%), the take-home midterm (10%), and the final project (30%).
Final project
This document provides a detailed overview of the final project organization. In general, the final project will be completed in groups of two or three students. Single person or multi-person projects are also allowed with instructor permission. Each group will propose a project topic drawn from an application area of interest. The project should make use of concepts covered in the course. The project should be roughly equivalent in scope to a section of a published research article. You will be required to write software to solve your problem, and to submit a report that includes a mathematical discussion of your methodology in relation to the theory covered in the course. Projects will be assessed based on a written report, and the quality and correctness of software. Code should be well-documented and should be organized so that figures submitted in the report can be easily reproduced by the graders.