Handbook of the Physics Computing Course

Michael Williams

December 3, 2002

Copyright © 2002 Michael Williams; this document may be copied, distributed and/or modified under certain conditions, but it comes WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; see the Design Science License for more details.

This document is a handbook used during 2002 as an introduction to programming for first year undergraduates studying physics at the University of Oxford. If you're interested in teaching programming (particularly using Python), then you may find Python in Education interesting. If you just want to learn the Python needed to write simple procedural programs of the kind used to solve problems in physics, then read on.

Chapters 1 and 2 are local information peculiar to the computer system once used in Oxford Physics. I plan to update these to be more general instructions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux when time allows. In the meantime, if you already know how to launch a Python shell (a.k.a. interpreter) and write and run simple programs using a text editor, then you can skip the first two chapters. If you don't know how to do this then you'll need to start with the basics of Python for your operating system.

Please note that, because of the way this document was prepared, some of the mathematical expressions and figures have not survived the transition to HTML. However, a PDF is also available, which is free of such errors, and can be printed out. Please see Python in Education for the PDF.