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COS 323 - Computing for the Physical and Social Sciences

Fall 2011

Course home Outline and lecture notes Assignments

Meeting time/place

TTh 3:00-4:20, Computer Science room 104 (large auditorium).


Rebecca Fiebrink
CS Building, Room 408
Office hours: Tues and Thurs 4:30-5:30 (after class), or by appointment


Dominic Kao
CS Building, Room 003
Office hours: Monday 4:30-6:30 or by appointment
Dmitry Drutskoy
CS Building, Room 004
Office hours: Wednesday 1:00-3:00 or by appointment

Course Description and Objectives

This course will study principles of scientific computation, driven by current applications in biology, physics, economics, engineering, and other disciplines.

By the end of the semester, students will have achieved:


The course is appropriate for students who have taken COS126 or the equivalent, as well as MAT 104 or the equivalent. There will be some programming in Java, and we will also be using Matlab for some of the assignments (though no prior Matlab knowledge is assumed).


Scientific Computing, an Introductory Survey (2nd ed.)
Michael T. Heath
ISBN 0-07-239910-4 or 978-0-07-239910-3


We will be trying out Piazza for handling student questions about course content. Please post your questions and discussion there rather than emailing the instructor or TAs directly.

Course Policies

The assignments are due at 11:59 PM on the due date. You are given three total free late days that you can use any time during the semester. Past three late days, your grade for a late assignment will lose 50% per day. 

You may discuss assignments with others, but everything handed in must be your own work. All code must be your own: you may not use code from your classmates, the internet, the textbook, or any other source.

We will be using CS Dropbox to submit assignments, which should be familiar to you from previous COS courses. Each assignment page will have a link to submit your files. Log in with your Princeton netID, and submit all applicable files by the deadline. You can resubmit and unsubmit files as needed up until the submission deadline. Changing contents after this deadline will count toward your three free late days. There is more information about CS Dropbox at

Please use discretion in your use of electronic devices during class. Be respectful of your classmates and instructors. No texting, no ringing cell phones.


50% Assignments
20% Project
30% Final Exam   

Borderline grades (e.g., B+/A-) may be adjusted on the basis of productive participation (asking and answering questions) in class and on Piazza.


The syllabus may be downloaded in PDF format here.

Last update 17-Sep-2011 16:35:26
fiebrink at princeton edu