12.620J | Fall 2008 | Graduate

Classical Mechanics: A Computational Approach


This course makes use of Athena, MIT’s UNIX-based computing environment. OpenCourseWare does not provide access to this environment.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


The laboratory is an integral part of the subject. We expect you to be there. You will need an Athena account to participate in the laboratory. You will be programming in Scheme, using software that we provide. A review of Scheme will be given in the first laboratory session.


The readings for this course will be taken from the following book:

Buy at MIT Press Sussman, Gerald Jay, and Jack Wisdom. Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780262194556.

We will provide a schedule of assignments, with readings for each lecture. We will assume that you read the material before the lecture.


We expect that you will turn in an assignment on Friday of each week. The problems are assigned from the book. Many assignments will require the use of the computer.


Some of the assigned work will be extended projects that may require work over a substantial period.


The grades for this subject will be determined by a combination of classroom participation, homework, and laboratory work. There are no examinations in this subject.

Collaborative Work

Many people learn more effectively when they study in small groups and cooperate in various other ways on homework. We are very much in favor of this kind of cooperation so long as all participants actively involve themselves in all aspects of the work. When you hand in a paper with your name on it we assume that you are certifying it as your work and that you were involved in all aspects of it. Even if you work with others you should do the writeup yourself, and you should indicate the names of any collaborators for each part of the assignment.