Physics 5053

Data Analysis

Fall 2003

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50 MWAH 279

Lab Wednesday 12:00-13:50 MWAH 397

Instructor: Alec Habig

Office: MWAH 384

Office Hours: 11:00-12:00 M

& 14:00-16:00 W (or by appointment)

Telephone: 726-7214



Readings will be assigned from several different textbooks, available from the library and/or the instructor, although it might be a good idea to purchase your own copy if we use it enough and it's cheap enough. These books include:

Bevington's book turned out to be one of the books on my shelf I most refer to in the course of my research, so would recommend it as a book you will probably keep throughout your career. Middleton's book has a lot of directly useful sections, since Matlab will be the common language of the class. We will also learn some of the event-driven analysis techniques common in high-energy physics, using PAW or root.

Course Objectives: This course is about data analysis in physics in a broad sense. While the details and specific tools used vary widely across the many sub-fields of physics, there are a number of different techniques and topics which are common to all. These will be discussed in lecture, and investigated in homework assignments. The lab projects in this course will be entirely computer-based – the actual acquiring of the data (either by experimental or theoretical means) is outside the scope of this class.

The topics to be covered include the following:

Grading: Course grades will be determined based on the following four areas, with their respective weights:

Letter grades will be assigned based upon the weighted average on a non-competitive curve. In order to keep the students informed as to their progress, a letter grade will be assigned after the mid-term exam and upon request.

Homework: Homework assignments are important. Hearing or reading about something does not make it sink in. In order to really learn about a topic, you need to practice it. Homework is this practice as applied to the concepts and theory, thus the comparatively large weight in the grade. Labs (see below) apply these concepts to reality. In addition to really helping one learn things, the homework helps the instructor see what areas need more or different explanation.

When writing out your homework solutions, include not only the schematics and equations which lead to the answer, but elaborate on the reasoning that led you to the steps in your answer. Think of the good and bad examples your various physics texts have presented you with. Write your homework problems like the good ones, and remember how frustrating those "the remainder is an exercise left to the reader" passages have been. Late homework grades depreciate at a rate of 25% per 24 hours.

Labs: The lab section will officially meet each week on Wednesday for two hours, from 12:00 till 13:50. This lab time will serve as a convienient location in spacetime for all of us to work on the lab assignments together, but you will have to work on your own time as well. The distinction between a homework and a lab assignment is rather fuzzy – homework will be collections of smaller problems, labs will be longer more complicated projects.

Just as for the homework, a penalty of 25% will be deducted for each day the lab assignment is late.

Just as for an experimental lab, you should keep a lab notebook. While doing the lab, write down what you are doing and what happens on the right hand page. If you have a figure or graph, draw or paste it in on the left hand page. Number such figures so you can refer to them in your commentary. After the lab and before you hand it in, go back to the notebook, elaborate, and clarify.

The goal of the lab notebook is for someone who has not done the experiment before (or you, ten years later, when you're in a real research situation and want to re-remember how to filter in frequency space) to be able to pick it up, walk into the lab, and duplicate your work. You can forget how the heck you extracted the interesting numbers out of a pile of graphs as easily as you can forget which colored wire went where in an electronics lab – so keep a journal of what you're doing as you go along, you will save yourself much pain later.

Note on disabilities: Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the start of the quarter. Adaptation of methods, materials, or testing may be made as possible to provide for equitable participation.

Important Dates:

Midterm Exam, on or near October 22.

Final Exam, Tuesday Dec 16, 10:00-11:55am