Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Course Description

In addition to the following standard topics:

  • Mechanical vibrations and waves
  • Simple harmonic motion
  • Normal modes
  • Forced vibrations
  • Resonance
  • Coupled oscillations
  • Driven coupled oscillators
  • Vibrations of continuous systems
  • Reflection and refraction
  • Phase and group velocity
  • Wave solutions to Maxwell's equations
  • Polarization
  • Rayleigh Scattering
  • Snell's Law
  • Fresnel equations
  • Interference, thin films
  • Huygens's principle
  • Fraunhofer diffraction, and
  • Gratings

a variety of related interesting topics will be covered. Among them:

  • Musical instruments
  • Blue skies
  • Red sunsets
  • Haloes around the sun and the moon
  • Glories
  • Rainbows
  • Glassbows
  • Telescopes
  • Doppler effect
  • Binary stars
  • Neutron stars
  • Black holes
  • Big-bang cosmology


Buy at Amazon French, A. P. Vibrations and Waves. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, January 1, 1971. ISBN: 9780393099362.

Buy at Amazon Bekefi and Barrett. Electromagnetic Vibrations, Waves and Radiation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, September 15, 1977. ISBN: 9780262520478.

Lectures - Homework - Solutions - Mini-Quizzes - Exams

There will be 23 lectures, 11 problem sets, 10 mini-quizzes, 2 exams during regular lecture hours, and a 3-hour final. During exams, you are expected to know all material covered in (i) the lectures, (ii) the reading assignments, (iii) the problem sets and (iv) recitations. Please hand in your homework on the due dates; solutions will be made available on the website later that day.

E1 (after L10) Exam 1
E2 (after L19) Exam 2
E3 (after L23) Final Exam

There will be no make-up exams!


Every Tuesday, during a 5-minute break in the lectures, we will have a simple mini-quiz. Some courses give mini-quizzes in recitations. Instead of breaking up the 50-minute recitations, it may be advantageous to do it during a pause in the 85-minute lectures.

Missed Work

A missed homework, quiz or exam counts as a zero. Only in case of verifiable illness can you be excused.

Course Grade

Mini-Quizzes 5%
Homework 15%
Participation in Recitations 5%
Exam 1 15%
Exam 2 20%
Final exam 40%

Take-Home Experiments

There will be a handful of take-home experiments which are part of the problem sets. To do them, you will need an 8.03 experiment kit. The kits will have to be returned at the end of the term.