PH420/520 Course Information
PH420-3A Mathematical Methods of Physics I
PH520-3A Introduction to Methods in Theoretical Physics I

Course Description: Through this course students will learn mathematical methods necessary in physics core courses such as classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. The mathematical methods covered in this course include complex analysis, linear algebra, vector calculus, series expansions, ordinary differential equations including special functions, and partial differential equations. Students successfully completing this course will develop sufficient mathematical skills necessary to complete the physics core courses.

Learning Objectives:
  • Differential and integral calculus
  • Series expansions including Taylor, Fourier, and Laurent expansions.
  • Complex variables, functions of complex variables, residue theorem and contour integrals
  • Matrices, linear algebra, and eigenvalue problems
  • Vector calculus
  • Ordinary differential equations, special functions
  • Partial differential equations

Day and Time: Tue. & Thu. 11:00AM-12:15PM
Room: PH 394 (Del Square)
Instructor: Dr. Ryoichi Kawai
phone: (205) 934-3931
Office Hour: Wed. 12:30-1:30pm
Course Website:

Course Schedule
Required Textbook  
Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering:
  - A Comprehensive Guide

K. F. Riley, M. P. Hobson, S. J. Bence
Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (March 13, 2006)
ISBN: 0521679710(paperback), 0521861535(hardcover)

Messages from the Instructor

Many homework problems will be given every week. Homework must be turned in electronically by email. (Use the department fax machine in the mailroom which scans sheets and sends the images by email.)

Two midterm exams and a final comprehensive exam will be given. Students must take all three exams.


Exams and assignments carry the following maximum possile points. Two midterm exams (20 pts. each), Final exam (30 pts.), Homework and other assignments (30 pts.). The total maximum possible points is 100. Letter grades are determined by the rule given in the table.
GradeTotal Score
A85 or above
B75 or above
C60 or above
D*50 or above
* Only for PH520 students.