Contact Information

Instructor: Jim Crumley
Office: 107 Peter Engel Science Center
Phone: 363–3183
Office Hour: 1:30 pm days MWF (or by appointment or just stop by)

Course Information

Class: 3:00 pm Friday
Room: 212 Peter Engel Science Center
Web Site:

Course Description

This course is meant to give you a chance to work on interesting things that you wouldn’t get to do in a typical, math computer science, or physics course. You will be working on cross-disciplinary problems and learn skills from all three fields.

You will generally work on the problems in groups. After your solutions are done, your group will present its solution to the class. You will often get more than one cycle to work on a problem.

Note that that this semester MapCores (junior) Research Seminar meets on Monday at 3:00, they will present to you on one Friday. Also, on some class days we will have observers from the MapCores FYS class who will come to listen to your solutions. Finally, note that you will be presenting a poster on one of your projects during Scholarship and Creativity Day in April. We will discuss that more next semester.

Course Goals

In this course you will gain:


Most of you will be working with a team of people when you gain employment after graduation. Teamwork is most effective when each member has a different skill set so that determining the resolution to a given problem arises as a result of good communication, a strong understanding of the required background information, and creativity. The goal of this course is to help you hone the skills necessary for collaboration with others within the workplace.

Your groups will be comprised of two or three people, depending on the particular assignment. When any member of the team does not effectively teach the others what they know about a particular concept, the entire team suffers and tends to produce below par results. We want the class to be a platform for the free exchange of ideas.

Your team will do an oral presentation for each assignment. We expect everyone in the group to participate equally, including participation during the oral presentations. In some cases this will be easily accomplished because each team member will present a different problem or different point of view. In other cases, we expect each person to contribute something meaningful to the main body of the talk. For example, it is not appropriate to have someone only do the introduction or conclusion. We plan to have class time organized in such a way that you gain the necessary background to be able to work on the problem outside of class. For each assignment, you will typically have 2-5 hours of work to do outside of class. We expect you to email us if you have questions prior to arriving to class.


The grade for this course will be based on your group’s solutions to the problems, your presentations of those solutions, and our observations of your groups while they are working. The grading will be broken down as follows: 25% for the programming assignments at the beginning off the course, 65% for the group projects, and 10% for participation.

Course Schedule

Date Topics Due
M09/01Introduce course and Python programming
M09/08Python Programming 2 Program 1
M09/15Python Programming 3 Program 2
M09/22Python Programming 4 Program 3
M09/29Python Programming 5 Program 4
M10/06Python Programming 6 Program 5
M10/13Python Programming 7 Program 6
M10/20Rabbits and Foxes Program 7
M10/27work on Rabbits and Foxes/ info on REUs Euler problem
M11/03res. presentations from juniors / present R&F / DPRabbits and Foxes
M11/10Work on Double Pendulum / info on REUs
M11/17Present Double Pendulum / Lego robots double pendulum
M12/01work on Robots
M12/08Robot Races