Statistical Mechanics: Homework Write-Ups
Here are some guidelines and other thoughts on homework solutions.
- Problem write-ups are your permanent record of your understanding
of the material covered. It is quite likely that you'll want to
return to some of the problems we'll solve at some point later in your
career. The stuff we do might bear on the research projects you
undertake, and it you also might want to refer to these solutions if
you ever teach a statistical mechanics course. Thus, you'll want to
make your solutions complete enough so that you can understand them
several years after you wrote them.
- Solutions should be clearly and logically presented. This means
- Your method should always be clear. It should be easy to figure
out what you're doing and why.
- Use a lot of space. I recommend skipping some lines if you use
- Equations should usually be accompanied by prose. Before plunging
into algebra, state what it is you're solving for. If there are any
non-obvious steps in a calculation, explain them.
- Write equations in a logical order.
- Solutions should stand on their own; they should be understandable
to someone who hasn't read the problem. This means that you should
paraphrase the question before writing your response.
- It is possible that for some problem you find yourself using
mathematica or writing a program in c. For all but the simplest
mathematica calculations you should include a printout of your mathematica
- We will not give numerical grades on HW assignments. Instead, we
will give a letter grade and try to include as many comments as we
can. We're mainly interested in seeing that you thoughtfully and
thoroughly attacked the problem and wrote it up in a clear and
- For many of the problems, written explanation will be required in
addition to a numerical answer or an equation.
- There also will likely be a few problems whose solution will
require you to write a short program.
- When working on a problem, it's fine to consult textbooks or
review articles. However, if you do so, you should be certain to cite
your source(s), and you should clearly derive any non-trivial formulas
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