PEDAGOGICAL FOUNDATION.
During the First academic year (three quarters) a graduate student in Ay
is expected to take the seven Ay 121-127 courses in astronomy,
as well as two or three of the four required electives outside of astronomy.
The purpose of these courses in closely related fields is to give
the student a sound pedagogical foundation in astronomy/astrophysics
and appropriate background in physics.
The typical schedule to finish all coursework during the first year is:
Ay121, Ay122a, Ay123, Ph136a in the fall term;
Ay124, Ay127, and Ph136b, Ay122b or another elective, in the winter;
and Ay125, Ay126, and one or two electives such as Ph101, in the spring.
Theory students may be exempted from Ay 122, and they are expected
to take at least six electives rather than only four.
At some point you will need to fill out a Plan of Study
within the REGIS system, to be approved by the Option Representative.
Please do this by the middle or end of the first year, after you have
given some consideration to your suite of electives.
As a complement to the Ay 121-127 astrophysics core, we highly recommend
for the physics requirement Ph 136 a,b (and c when offered), and Ph 101.
We strongly suggest that two of your four electives should be chosen from among these 4 courses.
In particular, we note that undergraduate education commonly does not
cover either fluid dynamics or plasma physics at a sufficient level,
and this is exactly what the Ph136 curriculum is designed to do.
Also, everyone in astronomy should be able to do order-of-magnitude estimates
of phenomena across enormous size scales, which is Ph101 in a nutshell.
Below is a non-exclusive menu of course titles for your consideration.
Please consult information from the registrar for the offerings in any given year.
Note that for most of the courses with "ab" or "abc" listings,
the terms may be taken independently (i.e. you can take "a" only, without "b" or "c",
and you can usually take "b" without having taken "a".
Do, however, talk to professors and other graduate students
about the common wisdom on this for any particular course.
Also note that any stated prerequisites are typically meant to apply
to our undergraduates, so don't worry about those if you see them.
The *'d courses below are ones recommended by current/recent Ay students.
And the **'d courses get more-than-average enthusiasm.
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All astronomers ought to be familiar with the following topics:
** Ph 101. Order-of-Magnitude Physics
Ph 136 abc. Applications of Classical Physics (optics, hydrodynamics, plasma physics, basic GR)
-- note that Ph136b is considered by students to be the most useful of the series
Ph 236 abc. Relativity
Ph 237. Gravitational Waves
ACM 101 ab. Methods of Applied Mathematics.
Ch 125/225 Quantum Chemistry (in lieu of Ph 103. Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy which is no longer offered)
Ge/Ch 128. Cosmochemistry
Theoretical astrophysicists may find the following useful:
Ph 127 abc. Statistical Physics (thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, critical phenomena)
- note that Ph136a covers what astrophysicists need to know in this area,
whereas much of the material here is more relevant to condensed matter applications.
Ph 129 bc. Mathematical Methods of Physics
Ph 205. Relativistic Quantum Field Theory
Ph 230. Elementary Particle Theory
Ph 231. High Energy Physics.
Ph 236 abc. Relativity
Ph 237. Gravitational Waves
APh 156 abc. Plasma Physics
APh/Ph/Ae 116. Physics of Thermal and Mass Transport in Hydrodynamic Systems
Ae/Ge/ME 160 ab. Continuum Mechanics of Fluids and Solids
- note that some assumptions that apply in APh and ME do not necessarily
apply in astrophysics, such as "incompressible fluid" and "non-magnetized" (!!),
so Ph136bc is a better choice in this area.
Computational modelers may find want to investigate:
ACM 106 ab. Introductory Methods of Computational Mathematics
ACM/CS 114 ab. Parallel Algorithms for Scientific Applications
Ay 190. Computational Astrophysics.
Data analysts may find useful:
* CS 101 Special Topics in Computer Science (specifically Computational Imaging)
ACM/EE 116. Probability Modelling
CMS/ACM/EE 117. Probability Theory and Stochastic Processes
ACM 118. Stochastic Processes and Regression
* CMS/CS/CNS/EE 155 and 156a. Machine Learning Data Mining
ACM/CS/IDS 157. Statistical Inference
ACM/CS/IDS 158. Mathematical Statistics (Bridge to Machine Learning)
Ma 112 ab. Statistics
Radio astronomers and other instrumentalists may find helpful:
* EE 111. Signal-Processing Systems and Transforms
EE 112. Introduction to Digital Signal Processing
* Ph/EE 118 ab: Low-Noise Electronic Measurement
EE 125. Digital Electronics and Design with FPGAs and VHDL
ACM/EE/IDS 170. Mathematics of Signal Processing
APh/EE 130. Electromagnetic Theory.
Exoplanet enthusiasts may find the following useful:
Ge 131. Planetary Structure and Evolution
Ge/Ay 132. Atomic and Molecular Processes in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences
* Ge/Ay 133. Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems
Ge/Ay 137. Planetary Physics (orbital dynamics)
Ge/ESE 139. Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation.
Practical programming skills are offered through:
CS 111 which has tracks for different programming languages
CS 121 on databases
CS 138 or CS 178 on algorithms
CS 179 on GPUs
MS 141 focussed on python and associated packages
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In each of the astronomy subjects, which must be taken for grades,
the student is expected to obtain a B or better grade.
C or better is acceptable in the electives, and we require
that no more than two of the electives be taken P/F,
with the preference that zero are taken P/F.
The lecturers of the astronomy courses, in the spirit of fulfilling
your need for a sound pedagogical foundation, should design the
grading scheme to test the knowledge acquired by the student. Many courses
use oral mid-term exams and written, closed-book, final exams,
in addition to weekly problem sets. Each lecturer should report
not only the grade but also strengths and weaknesses of the student
(based, for example, on the homeworks and in-class interactions) to the option representative.
At the discretion of the Executive Officer (EO), students who have failed
to meet the above grade minimums will be re-tested in specific courses during
or in addition to the regular Qualifying Exam.
RESEARCH.
We expect all of our First year students to undertake significant research
during the first 12 months. The research program can be modest
over the 9 academic months but is expected to ramp us significantly
by the 3-month Summer quarter. The student is free to choose
the research advisor and the particular project.
Research credits may be earned through Ay 142.
Ay 143 is more appropriate if the student is only
reading papers and attending group meetings,
but not doing any actual development work.
Students may conduct research related activities without signing up for
either of Ay142/143. Fear not, many more than the minimum number
of required units in these "research courses" will be accrued
over the duration of the Ph.D.
We have designed our program to cater to students entering graduate school
with different levels of preparedness. Some students may wish to explore
different alternatives for research during the first one to two years, while
others may already have a clear idea of which area of research they wish to
work in. The present system was set up to make it easy for you to choose
the approach best suited to your needs. Should you be unsure of the area
in which you would like to specialize, then you are encouraged to explore
different possibilities during your first two years.
The option holds the strong view that students should be involved deeply
in research as soon as possible. After all, undertaking research is the
prime goal of any graduate program. We do recognize that some students
come from an undergraduate program with little or no astronomy background.
The best plan for such students may often be to concentrate on the course
work during their first three quarters. On the other hand, students with
strong astronomy backgrounds are encouraged to undertake research as early
as possible during the academic year. Some students arrive early, during
the Summer quarter before the First year, to engage in research.
We recognize this was not permitted during 2020.
Regardless of entry point (summer before, during academic year, summer after),
all First year students are expected to be engaged in serious research.
In consultation with an advisor, the student is expected to carry out
a small research project that will be presented as part of the Qualifying Exam.
While not essential, we do recommend that the project be chosen so that
the end result is a publishable paper. This outcome may take significant
investment of time beyond the epoch of the Qualifying Exam.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
Preparation for independent research requires not only deep familiarity
with a particular specialized field, but also a broad understanding of
other areas of astronomy and their interconnections. To this end, we
expect students to broaden their horizon by attending (at the very least)
the weekly colloquim and participating in the Journal club (Ay141)
and seminar courses (e.g. Ay 2xx series classes when offered).
As part of general responsibility for your own graduate education,
you should also engage in self study of review papers in various fields.
The option representative is the default academic advisor of all First-year
and Second-year students in Ay. During this time period students will also engage
in research, so will have a research advisor. We encourage each student
to identify - in addition to the above - another member of the faculty
who can serve as a professional mentor. Students should report the mentor choice
to the option representative towards the end of the first academic year
when sufficient familiarity with the faculty has been made.