Course Instructors:

Julian Kates-Harbeck (juliankh@stanford.edu)
Ian Tenney (iftenney@stanford.edu)
Jason Chaves (jchaves@stanford.edu)

Physics 91SI: Practical Computing for Scientists

Spring 2012

Course Goals:

This course teaches essential computing skills for researchers in the natural sciences. The goal is to provide students with the essential and most powerful tools used in modern research environments. The course will be taught primarily using the UNIX operating system and the Python programming language, but with an eye toward the different computing environments used in research situations.

By the end of this course, you should be a self-sufficient programmer and software user. This means that you will be able to:

  1. Navigate the UNIX operating system and use many of its powerful utilities, including shell scripting, version control, and distributed filesystems.
  2. Be confident using the Python program programming language, including advanced data structures, object-oriented programming, functional programming, and debugging tools.
  3. Use scientific libraries for data analysis and simulation
  4. Plot and present data in an effective and informative manner
  5. Find, incorporate, and learn to use the best libraries and tools for a task
  6. Write fast, efficient and optimized code

While examples will be drawn primarily from physics, these skills are useful in any scientific discipline involving quantitative analysis.

Course Structure:

  • 2 sessions per week, Tuesday and Thursday 3:15-5:05 pm in 160-319 (Wallenberg 3rd floor)
  • Each session will consist of a 50 minute lecture (with interactive components) and a 1 hour lab
  • Tuesday sessions will focus on introducing concepts, with a shorter lab
  • Thursday sessions will have a shorter lecture focusing on applications, with a longer lab consisting of more involved problem
  • Office hours TBD

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