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Mathematical and Computational Methods

Georgetown University via edX


Physicists use math all of the time in nearly everything that they work on. Hence, it is critical that you become efficient in being able to use more advanced math to enable you to work on more advanced physics courses. Most of you are currently what I would call a technician at math. You are able to perform the required manipulations to find and simplify answers. But, in many cases, you are missing the deeper understanding to help you interconnect different math topics and for you to be able to apply the relevant math for whatever problem you will face, based on your knowledge of how the different math topics inter-relate. On the other hand, a practitioner is someone who not only is technically adept at performing math calculations, but also have the insight and deeper understanding to know how to recognize what math applies to what problem. They understand how math is interconnected and recognize that math involves a handful of simple ideas that repeat. They are able to re-derive important formulas from basic principles or know precisely where to look them up and use them.

The goal of this class is to transform you from a math technician to a math practitioner. Mathematicians take this one step further and actually create new math. We will not focus on how to do that at all in this class.

Taught by

James Freericks


4.8 rating, based on 26 Class Central reviews

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  • I am writing the following review having completed the course except for the epilogue and the final. It's difficult for me to write a review because I was familiar with most of the material, and so I must try and write from the point of view of a sophomore...
  • Anonymous
    I want to make clear in advance that this course's main target is possibly not being a MOOC, but might be just an "I Want YOU", to dig up as many clever and interested oldies (maybe students too) as possible, and check via the course forum whether some...
  • Paresh Kenkare
    I highly recommend this class. My expectations in taking this course were (a) to brush up on the engineering math courses I took more than 35 years ago and on which I performed poorly and (b) to obtain a foundation in mathematics which would help me understand...
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed taking this course on the edx platform and learnt quite a lot but that does not make me a practitioner yet since that takes a lot of practice. The best features of the class were the in class problems, the problem of the week and the active...
  • Anonymous
    As someone who has a chemistry background but wants to learn more about general physics and theoretical physics, I find this mathematical methods course very helpful ! The organization and the depth of materials feel challenging yet manageable. All sections,...
  • Anonymous
    This is an outstanding course, as is all of the courses taught by professor Freericks. The amount of effort, thought, and care that went into this course as well as the course Quantum Mechanics for Everyone is unmatched in any of the other courses that I have taken or seen online--or even courses that I have taken in person for that matter.

    I can't wait until the next time this course is offered, along with the other courses that professor Freericks has planned.

  • Anonymous
    Challenging but very rewarding course. I learned many interesting mathematical methods beyond the introductory calculus, like Vector Calculus and Differential Equations. If you already have some mathematical maturity, but you miss practice, and you want to fill some gaps, this is, in my opinion, the best mathematical course on edX.

    Professor Jim Freericks was very helpful and available during the whole class, and he is an excellent teacher, and I enjoyed every week.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course. The “course book” was complete within the stated goals for the course, then the material was made clear and relevant in the lecture videos. I found the in-class exercises very helpful in helping me understand the material and highlighting need for additional study; there was always a good range of difficulty and thought challenging opportunities. The course showed an excellent blend of mathematical rigor and practical applications in physics. I would recommend this course for anyone interested in physics and engineering.
  • Profile image for Asher Tubman
    Asher Tubman
    This course was excellent! I had seen much of this content over a decade ago, but not in such a condensed manner. So I can't necessarily speak to it as a method for learning it for the first time. But it was an excellently taught course, with a lot of different ways to engage with the content. And by the end I felt familiar with a wide range of mathematical tools in a physics-applied context.

  • Profile image for Husam Malkawi
    Husam Malkawi
    WARNING: Do not attempt this course without the required mathematics background. Overall I learned a lot from the course and I enjoyed it, I felt that it skimmed over some material, but the combination of exercises and support from the professor himself and other learners made the course well worth my time. The labs were really interesting and fun and probably my favorite part of the course.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course. I was always looking for an "advanced" course that would give an overview of all that math I have seen in many places but I have never studied. The course was challenging for me but the big number of exercises really helped practice my skills and improve comprehension. What to say about Professor Freericks? This is my second course with him. Cannot wait to have the third one! Five stars to the course and six stars to Professor Freericks.
  • Profile image for Sam Shaaban
    Sam Shaaban
    I took the paid version of this course, partially to refresh what I learned 30 years ago in electrical engineering classes, and partially to fill in the blanks on material I never learned that well to start with. It's a great overview course, just deep enough to give you a good feel for the material, but broad enough to cover a great deal in one course. Professor Freericks is really on top of the discussion forums, providing thoughtful feedback within hours on any question asked.
  • Robert Roy MacGregor
    The idea of becoming a practitioner rather than just a plug-in technician immediately struck me as the way physics/math should be taught. Professor Freericks is incredible. He is very knowledgeable and clear in his presentation. The material is specially selected to meet the goals. This course is important and well worth taking.
  • Anonymous
    I recommend this course to everybody who wants to have an introduction to the different mathematical topics you need in physics. In my opinion there is no other MOOC course comparable to this one.
    A great plus is that Professor Freericks is available 24/7 for answering questions.
  • Anonymous
    An absolutely excellent course - very deep and like the regular checks for understanding. I wish i had more time to do the course some justice. Look forward to seeing some more applied maths courses in the future.

    As a new area it would be great to see a course on maths in finance topics such as options, exotic options and other derivative pricing. I know this is very different but is something I work in a lot.
  • Anonymous
    This course was very challenging but in a good way. Professor Freericks made very complicated and sophisticated material understandable. The goal of learning to truly think mathematics in a way that makes one a practitioner instead of just a technician is so important, I think that it has a place in just about every subject. Excellent course.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent class and great teacher! This class is so important for learning Physics. I did not have this class when I was in College. If this class exists in my time, I would have doing so much better in Physics.
  • Excellent course. The professor is very clear in explaining the concepts. The lecutres are short and precise covering both theory and examples. A lot of interesting topics covered - especially the ones on calculus, vector calculus and differential equations were covered very well. Looking forward to his future courses
  • Anonymous
    Many unexpected but interesting topics included. I enjoyed the videos with the experiments/demonstrations. FUN!
    And the detailed examples that Prof. Freericks worked out are particularly helpful.
    The videos are well-prepared and carefully done.
    Congratulations to all involved.
  • BK Sreedhar
    A very useful course from a top class teacher. This is a foundation course for his Quantum Mechanics course which is also just fantastic.

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