Statistical Mechanics: Homework Write-Ups

Here are some guidelines and other thoughts on homework solutions.

  1. 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.

  2. Solutions should be clearly and logically presented. This means that:
    1. Your method should always be clear. It should be easy to figure out what you're doing and why.
    2. Use a lot of space. I recommend skipping some lines if you use lined paper.
    3. 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.
    4. Write equations in a logical order.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 worksheet.

  5. 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 coherent way.

  6. For many of the problems, written explanation will be required in addition to a numerical answer or an equation.
  7. There also will likely be a few problems whose solution will require you to write a short program.
  8. 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 or techniques.

[Dave] [Stat Mech] [COA] [UMO Physics]

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