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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Thomas R. Quinn
ASTR 497
Seattle Campus

Topics in Current Astronomy

Recent developments in one field of astronomy or astrophysics.

Class description

This is a hands-on course to learn methods for numerically solving problems that arise in astrophysics. Teaching programming is not the primary goal, nevertheless it is hoped that techniques for writing and debugging programs will be a useful side effect.

Topics will include: interpolation and extrapolation, integration, ordinary differential equations, root finding, optimization, linear algebra, Monte-Carlo, an introduction to partial differential equations, and an introduction to parallel techniques.

Student learning goals

The student will understand performance issues and limitations of floating point arithmetic on computers.

The student will be able to express and solve several types of astrophysics calculations within a computer program.

The student will have skills to assess correctness of computed results.

General method of instruction

The instruction time will be half lectures, and half lab sessions.

Recommended preparation

Some programming experience is required. You should either be a Physics or Astronomy major.

Class assignments and grading

The assignment will be problems requiring the writing of programs.

The grades will be based on 5 programming assignments. Correctness of results, program performance, and readability will be used as grading criteria.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Thomas R. Quinn
Date: 11/18/2009