The goal of the course is to provide students with basic physics and computer science concepts. As far as the physics module is concerned, the laws of mechanics, thermodynamics and electromagnetism will be presented and problems will be proposed in order to highlight the importance of matter for the understanding of natural phenomena in a quantitative way. The information technology module will provide the tools for data analysis and data management.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will have learned the basic elements of the experimental method, the basic physical laws and will be able to solve simple basic physics problems in a quantitative manner. The student must also demonstrate that he is able to understand the basic principles concerning the functioning of a computer and be able to create and manage spreadsheets.
Lesson period: Second semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Computer science module: no prerequisite is required to follow and take the exam of the computer course. Physics module: to follow and take the exam of the physics course, the knowledge of basic mathematical tools is required: trigonometry, sum and scalar product of vectors, derivatives, integrals, solution of first and second degree equations.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Computer science module: The exam consists of a written test in which the student is asked theoretical questions and asked to develop some exercises related to the laboratory part. The written test can be replaced by two ongoing tests that are proposed to students during the course. Each test (written or ongoing) is assigned a mark out of thirty. The student who passes both tests in progress is entitled to a bonus of 2 points on the average of the marks obtained. The tests are intended to verify the basic knowledge of computer science and the students' ability to put the concepts presented during the laboratory hours into practice.
Physics module: The exam consists of a written test on topics covered in the course with theory questions and exercises to carry out. The exam will assess the skills acquired and the ability to apply physical laws and evaluate the results quantitatively. During the course two ongoing tests will be organised which if passed both will replace the exam. The student who passes both tests in progress is entitled to a bonus of 2 points on the average of the marks obtained.
Since the course "Physics and Computer Science" is organised in two modules, the mark given to students for this course is the average of the marks of the two modules. Students who pass both modules in the same session are entitled to a further increase of 1 point. Students can take the exam test of the two modules in different sessions. The marks of the modules remain valid for one year. If a student leaves a longer period of time without passing the other form or registering the exam, the mark obtained is no longer valid.
The teaching is divided into a part of theory and a part of laboratory.
The theory part focuses on the following topics:
- Information representation: The coding of information, the binary system, representation of numbers in base 2, 8 and 16, the representation of characters, the representation of images, audio and video, compression of information. - Organization and architecture of a computer: logical components of a computer, processors, memories, mass memories, peripherals. - The operating system: onion structure, memory management, file system management. - Networks and the Internet: types of networks, the levels of communication in a network, the internet protocols, the word-wide-web, the cloud. - Information management: the relational model, SQL, basic queries, aggregate queries.
In the laboratory part, the student will have to familiarise himself with the use of spreadsheets to perform different types of data analysis and with the query languages for databases. In particular, the following topics will be covered:
- Excel: the spreadsheet, the cells. Absolute and cell-related references, cell formats. Formulas and functions, data management, graphics, use of excel for the application of statistical methods. - MySQL: commands for creating tables, specification of referential integrity constraints (primary, unique and foreign keys), constraints on attributes (NOT NULL, default), commands for basic queries, commands for aggregate queries.
The course is held in classrooms with computers so that students can test the functionality of spreadsheets and SQL language to query a database.
The topics covered are widely covered on the Web and a specific book is not adopted. Students interested in a book can contact the teacher.
Additional supplementary material, exercises carried out and lecture notes, prepared by the teacher, is made available on the teaching website.
The course includes the presentation of basic physical principles, in particular of classical physics, with references to practical examples to highlight the relevance of matter in understanding natural phenomena. During the course the fundamental laws of mechanics, thermodynamics and electromagnetism are presented.
In particular, the following topics will be covered during the course:
The experimental method. Physics measurement. The International System of Units. Dimensional analysis and changes of units of measurement. Length. Time. Mass. Calculation of orders of magnitude and significant figures.
Definition of material point. One-dimensional motion. Reference systems. Change of position. Average and instantaneous speed. Time evolution. Uniform straight motion. Speed as a derivative. Average and instantaneous acceleration. Uniformly accelerated motion. Integral of motion. Calculation of areas, in some simple cases. Scalar and vector quantities. Versor. Vector decomposition. Sum and products between carriers. Displacement, speed and acceleration in two and three dimensions. Composition of motions in two dimensions. Trajectory in two dimensions. Projectile motion. Range. Uniform circular motion. Relative motion. Change of reference systems.
2.2 Dynamics of the material point
Force definition. First law of dynamics. Inertial reference systems. Definition of inertial mass. Second law of dynamics. Some particular forces: weight force, constraint reaction, tension, elastic force. Static and dynamic friction forces. Apparent forces. Examples of centrifugal force. Third law of dynamics. Newton's law of gravitation. Gravitational mass.
2.3 Work and Energy
Definition of work. Kinetic energy theorem. Power. Conservative forces. Potential energy. Mechanical energy and its conservation. Gravitational and elastic potential energy.
2.4 Oscillatory and periodic motions
Motion equation of a spring. Harmonic oscillator. Definition of period, frequency and angular pulsation. Linear velocity and angular velocity. Uniform circular motion and harmonic motion. The simple pendulum.
2.5 Material point systems
Impulse of a force and momentum. The center of mass. Dynamics law for a point system. External forces and internal forces. Conservation of the total momentum. General information on collisions. Elastic and inelastic collisions.
3. Fluids and Thermodynamics
3.1 Fluids and their dynamics
States of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Extensive and intensive quantities. Definition of pressure and density. Forces in a fluid at rest. Stevin's law. Principle of communicating vessels. Pressure measurement. Torricelli experience. Pascal's principle. Archimedes' principle. Fluid dynamics. Ideal fluid. Flow lines. Continuity equation. Bernoulli's equation. Venturi principle.
3.2 Calorimetry and thermodynamics
Heat and temperature. Zero principle of thermodynamics. Measurement of temperature and thermometric scales. Thermal capacity and specific heat. Latent heat. Equilibrium temperature, as a function of thermal capacity. Thermodynamic system. State quantities. Thermodynamic transformations. Work. Joule's experiment: mechanical equivalent of calorie. First law of thermodynamics. Law of perfect gases. Avogadro's number. Clapeyron plan. Isobar, isochoric, isothermal, adiabatic transformations of a perfect gas. Free expansion of a perfect gas. Specific heat and internal energy of a perfect gas. Thermal machines, refrigerators and heat pumps. Second law of thermodynamics. Carnot cycle. Entropy. Entropy variation for irreversible processes. General entropy variation.
Outline of the fundamental forces of nature. Electric charge. Coulomb's law. Hydrogen atom. Field concept. Electric field. Overlapping principle. Field strength lines. Field generated by a point charge. Electric dipole. Flow of a vector. Gauss theorem. Charge density of volume, surface, linear. Applications of the Gauss theorem: loaded wire, infinite loaded plane, uniformly charged sphere, cylinder. Comparison between the gravitational field and the electrostatic field. Conductors. Electrostatic introduction. Work done by the electric field. Electric potential. Equipotential surfaces. Potential of a point charge. Potential of many point charges. Electrical capacity of a conductor. Outline of capacitors (flat, series and parallel capacitor capacitors). Analogies and differences between the gravitational field and the field of a point charge.
4.2 Electric current and circuits
Conduction in metals. Electric current. Current density. Resistance and resistivity. Ohm's law. Energy and power in electrical circuits. Joule effect. Electromotive force. Real voltage generator. Series and parallel resistors. Simple circuits with series and parallel resistors.
4.3 Magnetic field
The magnetic field. Magnetic force on a current-carrying wire. Lorentz force. Motion of a charged particle in a magnetic field. Electric current and magnetic field. Biot-Savart's law. Field B generated by an infinite wire. Force between current-carrying conductors. Definition of the Ampere.
The didactic method adopted includes lectures on basic physical principles and exercises on the blackboard with the application of physical laws and the quantitative solution of problems.
The student can freely use the textbooks he deems most suitable to prepare for the exam. The reference text for the exam preparation is: D. C. Giancoli, "Physics principles and applications", C. Ed. Ambrosiana.