Physics 475: Introduction to Mathematical Physics

Spring 2009

Lectures:  Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:50 p.m. in Small 238

Instructor: Irina Novikova

Office: Small 332
E-mail: ixnovi[at] 
Office hours: by appointment
Telephone: (757) 221-3693


Grader: Zhifeng Shi


Office: Small 243
Office hours (grading questions only): by appointment

Course Syllabus

Required text: Mary Boas: Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd Ed., Wiley.

Supplementary text: Mathematical Methods for physicists, by George B. Arfken and Hans J. Weber, 4th Ed., Academic Press.

Homework:   10 problems + 1 extra credit problem per week due each Friday at 5 p.m.

Course schedule and Homework Assignments




Two midterm tests

25% each

Final exam


Tentative course content

This course is intended to provide basic mathematical concepts needed in junior/senior/graduate courses in Physics. It will cover a broad range on topics, including infinite series, complex numbers and functions, Fourier analysis, special functions, etc.

Complex Numbers, Functions of a Complex Variable (Boas, Chapters 2, 14)

Real and Imaginary Parts of a Complex Number; Complex Conjugate; Analytic Functions; Contour Integrals; The Residue Theorem

Infinite Series, Power Series (Boas, Chapter 1)

Convergence of Infinite Series; Interval of Convergence for Power Series; Expanding Functions in Power Series

Fourier Series and Transforms (Boas, Chapter 7)

Fourier Series (Regular and Complex Forms); Fourier Transforms

Special Functions (Boas, Chapter 11)

Gamma and Beta Functions; The Error Function; Stirling's Formular;

Series Solutions of Differential Equations (Boas, Chapter 12)

Legendre and Bessel Polynomials and Functions; Hermite and Lagguerre Polynomilas

Partial Differential Equations (Boas, Chapter 13)

Laplace's Equation in Different Coordinate Systems; Time-dependent differential equations