8.223 | January IAP 2017 | Undergraduate

Classical Mechanics II


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 18.02 Calculus II: Multivariable Calculus.


This course is a broad, theoretical treatment of classical mechanics, useful in its own right for treating complex dynamical problems, but essential to understanding the foundations of quantum mechanics and statistical physics.

Class Objectives

  • Classical Mechanics Power Tools

    • How to solve the really hard problems with relative ease through Lagrangian Mechanics
  • Preparation for Statistical Mechanics and Quantum Physics

    • The theoretical foundation for advanced physics lies in Hamiltonian Mechanics



Landau, Lev D., and Evgenij M. Lifshitz. Mechanics: Course of Theoretical Physics. Vol. 1. 3rd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1976. ISBN: 9780750628969. [Preview with Google Books]


Thornton, Stephen T., and Jerry B. Marion. Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems. Cengage Learning India, 2012. ISBN: 9788131518472.

Goldstein, Herbert, John Safko, and Charles P. Poole. Classical Mechanics. Pearson, 2013. ISBN: 9781292026558.

Course Outline

1–4 Lagrangian Mechanics
5–6 Conserved Quantities
7–10 Orbits and Scattering
11–12 Oscillations
13–14 Tricky Potentials
15–19 Hamiltonian Mechanics


There are 4 problem sets. Doing them is critical to getting the most of this class. Try them alone, then in a group, then ask an upperclassman, then email the Teaching Assistant.


The project problem should look impossible given only 8.01 Physics I, but will not be so bad by week 2 or 3! Do it alone (without help from the internet) whenever you like. Turn it in with the last problem set or earlier for bonus credit).


Seventy percent of the class grade is based on the Assignments and 30% on the Project.

Course Info

As Taught In
January IAP 2017
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Lecture Notes