Meets MWF 10:00-10:50 Regener Hall 118

Instructor: Prof. Keith Lidke

Room 1140, Physics and Astronomy
phone: (505)277-0302

Teaching Assistant: David Schodt


Office Hours

Prof. Lidke: Each day after class, anytime you can find me in my office- Physics (Lomas and Yale) room 1140, or by appointment.


This class is designed as an introduction to programming for the undergraduate physics major. The class begins with no assumption of prior programming experience. An emphasis will be on building strong programming skills using the MATLAB programming environment. Applications and examples will include data analysis (curve fitting and optimization), simulating physical systems, solving systems of linear equations and Monte Carlo techniques.

There is no required text for the class.

Use of your own laptop computers during class is strongly encouraged, but not required.


Letter grades correspond with numerical scores as given by this scale: Grade Scale. Grades will be assigned based on the following:

Homework (60%)

Weekly homework assignments will consist of problems that must be solved using MATLAB code. Each problem will be scored as 1 or 0 based on whether the code produces the correct result or not. The grader will not attempt to fix code in any way. An additional .1 points of extra credit will be given for each problem for well-documented code. I encourage students to study together and learn from each other. However, all homework must be created in its entirety by each student. Evidence of copied homework will result in all involved students being dropped from the class. Assignments are due before 24:00 on the due date. No late assignments will be accepted.

The grader must be able to easily run your homework and therefore there must not be any confusion between your submissions and that from others. Homework submissions must be in the format: "LastName_HW1.m". If the solution consists of multiple files because of multiple problems or functions, then name files "LastName_HW1_Problem1.m" or "LastName_HW1_FuncName.m".

Submission Procedure: Login to your account. Find the current homework assignment for Physics 290. Upload each *.m file as an separate file. Let me know if you have problems.

Quizes (30%)

We will have six quizzes throughout the semester. Lowest scoring quiz of the semester will be dropped. No make-up quizzes will be offered.

Final Exam (10%)

Final Exam will consist of individual projects. Details will be discussed in class.

Class Content

All class content will given in Blackboard Learn.

Reference Material

A reference text recommended by a student in our class: MATLAB for Engineers

Installing MATLAB

Create an account at using your UNM email address.
Download and install MATLAB 2014b or later. We will not need or use most toolboxes. If you want to save download time and disk space, just install MATLAB and these toolboxes:
Symbolic Math Toolbox

Others I find useful, but we will probably not use in class are:
Image Processing Toolbox
Optimization Toolbox
Parallel Computing Toolbox
Signal Processing Toolbox

At the point where it asks you to validate, you need to sign in with your mathworks account and provide an activation key. The key is given in the pdf linked to this page under the MATLAB section.

MATLAB Examples


MATLAB documentation


Interview with Cleve Moler, creator of MATLAB

Numerical Recipes "