Java Applet Method for Undergraduate Physics Core Classes

In teaching an intermediate-level undergraduate class, it would be wonderful to be able to give students computer exercises as a part of their weekly problem sets. When Michael Peskin recently taught the undergraduate E&M sequence at Stanford, he worked out a method for doing this, based on Java applets. The students worked on problems involving the partial differential equations that arise in electro- and magneto-statics and dynamics. To do the exercises, they needed to understand discretization and to write small amounts of code, but they were provided with a GUI that displayed their results as a satisfying and illustrative toy. The principles of the method and a full documentation of the Java implementation is given in this eprint: physics/0302044. A shorter version of this paper was published in Computing in Science and Engineering, 5, 92 (2003).

A tar.gz file containing the Java code, including the underlying class library and nine examples from undergraduate electricity and magnetism, is available at this link. Please read the instructions. The file PhysicsApplet.java must be copied into each directory in order for the applets to work.

This software was created at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. It is made available for public use under the disclaimer posted at this link.


If we are going to talk about good software design, we have to talk about Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris, the basis of good software design.

-- Wall, Christiansen, and Orwant, in Programming Perl


Michael E. Peskin
SLAC