I have had the privilege of teaching graduate classes through the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and Oceanographic Engineering since 1984. (28 years?! Whoa!) And each year, our last class would be a lunch together (on the instructor, of course – I remember the tight budget I had as a grad student, and it's still pretty much the same!) During these lunch's, the conversation would generally be about the eagle's eye view of the course, and how it fits into the larger world of science, technology, social needs and concerns, etc. This "bull session" overview of the world is a valuable one - often in grad school one gets overly focused on their research problem (with good reason), and ignores the bigger picture. In writing the lecture background notes, I tried to incorporate some of that overview material, and hope I have succeeded.
This year, Jessica Kloss of MIT OCW joined us for lunch, and her presence engendered a bit of discussion about online courses and remote learning. I personally believe that this is an important trend that is continually growing stronger, and this was one of my motivations to contribute to MIT OCW. (And if you don't believe me, please dig out the November 19, 2012 New York Times article "College of the Future Could be Come One, Come All"; by Tamar Lewin on Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC's).)
Another motivation I had to contribute to MIT OCW is that I'm an avid user. One of my hobbies is trying to keep a bit current in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy, and OCW has wonderful offerings here, which I am slowly grinding through. (OCW has not helped improve my World of Warcraft gaming skills, but I suppose that should be expected.)
As to my offering here, a few notes. First, this course covers a LOT of areas (purposely, this semester). Each of the areas of propagation theory, scattering, numerical modeling, and inversion has a complete one semester course (currently) taught about it at MIT, just in the context of ocean acoustics. And even for an abbreviated version of these, there is a lot of material covered in the notes. Second, I hope that my offering here can stand up reasonably to the other excellent courses on OCW. I know there may be some errors here and there, for which I apologize beforehand! (And if you spot some, please contact me, and I will be sure to have an up to date "errata" page posted somewhere accessible.) Third, I am an enthusiast about what I do, and science and engineering in general, and enjoy talking to other enthusiasts. I will be happy to reply and correspond to any comments, questions, and such from serious readers of this material.
Finally, let me give a big thanks to Jessica Kloss and Molly de Blanc of MIT OCW and Gretchen McManamin of WHOI who did the real legwork on this project, and made it possible. Also, my thanks to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program (a wonderful intersection of two great institutions) which gave me the opportunity to teach through the years. A big thanks to George Frisk, who pretty much got me started on teaching in the Joint Program. The Office of Naval Research also deserves a big thank you, as they were the sponsors of much of the work shown in this course. And finally, my profound thanks to all the students who have taken courses with me throughout the years – they have been a joy to interact with, and have taught me a lot!