Classical Mechanics

PHYS 510
Fall Semester, 2006

Igor A. Shovkovy


Monday, Wednesday, Friday


3:00 p.m. 3:50 p.m.



This is the Classical Mechanics course for physics majors at the advanced undergraduate and graduate level. Tentative list of topics to be covered includes Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics and their applications to central force motion, dynamics of rigid bodies and coupled oscillations.


Objectives: The purpose of this course to provide physics students with a solid knowledge of selected topics in Classical Mechanics that are usually left out from the corresponding introductory courses.


Text book: Classical dynamics of particles and systems (5th edition) by S. J. Thornton and J. B. Marion


Attendance policy: Attendance is expected although not mandatory. Students are responsible for all material presented in class, all homework, and for all changes to the schedule or plans which are announced in class.


My office is Currens 305. My office telephone number is 309-298-2743. You are welcome to call me at my office at any time. There is a voice mail if I am not available. My e-mail address is I read e-mail daily. 


Office hours: Tentatively, these will be on Mondays and Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, you can make appointments with me.


Prerequisites: PHYS 311


The final grade for this course will be based on weekly homework assignments, two mid-term examinations, and a final examination. My default plan is to use the following table for determining the maximum number of points for each category:   

weekly homework


1st mid-term examination


2nd mid-term examination


final examination




together with the following grade ranges:

A (850-1000 points), B (700-849 points), C (550-699 points), D (400-549 points), F (<399 points)


Homework will usually be assigned every week and should be handed in the following week before the class. In general, late homework will not be accepted. Approximately 2 out of 3 problems will be selected randomly for grading, and each problem will be graded on a scale from 0 to 15. At the end of the semester, there will be approximately 24 graded problems. I plan to use the best 20 in computing your homework score.

Tentative schedule


The exact schedule for lectures and examinations will depend on how long it takes to cover the material. The following is my best guess as of now (August 2006).  Please note that the mid-term exams are tentatively scheduled for Wednesdays, October 4 and November 8. The mid-term exams will each have two problems to be solved in class and two problems to be taken home. The maximum score for each problem will be in the range between 40 and 60 points. The answers without solutions will not be accepted. The take-home questions of the mid-term exams will be due on Fridays, October 6 and November 10, respectively, by the beginning of the class (i.e. 3 p.m.). The final examination is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. There will be no make-up exams.



Tentative description of topics to be covered



Aug. 21, 2006

Oct. 2, 2006

Chapters 6 8: Calculus of variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics, central-force motion

Oct. 4, 2006


Oct. 6, 2006

Nov. 6, 2006

Chapters 9 and 11: Dynamics of a system of particles, Dynamics of rigid bodies

Nov. 8, 2006


Nov. 10, 2006

Dec. 8, 2006

Chapter 12: Coupled oscillations and, if time permits, some topics from Chapter 13: Continuous systems

Dec. 13, 2006



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Last modified August 16, 2006