PHYS 311: Classical Mechanics I

Welcome to Classical Mechanics I. Please ask lots of questions, and by all means get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns.
[Course Information] [Announcements] [Material and Links]

Course Information

A complete discussion of course policies can be found in the
course syllabus (version: 1/7/19).

Prof. Dave Goldberg (
Office: Disque Hall Room 810
Phone: x2715
Office Hours: W 3:30-4:30, F 1-2, or by appointment in advance

Joe Wraga (

T,Th 10-12
Curtis 457

Classical Mechanics by John R. Taylor.
[Amazon Page]


  • The Midterm Exam will be held on Tuesday, February 12, during the normal class time. It will cover Chapters 1-7, 8.2, 8.4, 9.2. As a reminder, I will focus on topics which satisfy 2 of the following 3 requirements: 1) We discussed it in lecture, 2) You did it on a homework, 3) You read about it in your textbook. An incomplete list includes:
    • Newton's Laws
    • Particles in EM Fields
    • Friction and damping
    • Linear and Angular Momentum
    • Kinetic and Potential Energy
    • Curvilinear Coordinate Systems (and Div, Grad, Curl)
    • Oscillatory Motion
    • The Euler-Lagrange Equations
    • Hamilton's Principle
    To Help you prepare:
    • [Equation Sheet] -- You will be provided a fresh version of this on your exam. No other materials (including a calculator) are allowed, except for a writing implement and your equation sheet. If you find any errors (or would like to request additional equations) please let me know. If you are the first to find an error, I'll give you extra credit.
    • [2017 Exam]
    • [2017 Solution Key]
    • [2015 Exam]
    • [2015 Solution Key]
  • [Midterm Solution Key]
  • [Some Fluid Notes]
  • The Final Exam will be held on Friday, March 22, from 1pm-3pm in Curtis 340.
    The exam will be cumulative. It will include all material covered up to the midterm, as well as everything (except for our intro to fields) since then. The cumulative reading includes: Chapters 1-8, 9.2, 10.1, 10.2, 13, 14, as well as the fluids notes that I distributed.

    In addition to the topics evaluated in the midterm (see above), you should focus your preparation on:

    • Central Force Problems, and the solution to Keplerian Potentials
    • Hamiltonian Mechanics
    • Liouville's Theorem and Phase Space
    • Collision Theory (including impact parameter and cross section)
    • Rutherford Scattering
    To help you prepare:
  • [Final Exam Solution Key] - mu=73.7

Materials and Links


  • In class, we discussed the 2d oscillator, and the "epicyclic approximation" for orbiting bodies (though I didn't name it that). I've written some quick viz tools to help you play around with parameters for each.

Homework Assignments

Homework will be assessed a 10% penalty will be given for each day of lateness. The lowest homework will be dropped from your final average.