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Version: 2023

👋 Hi there!

This is the website for MIT course 3.029 as taught in the spring of 2023. The full name of the course is Mathematics and Computational Thinking for Materials Scientists and Engineers I, and this is exactly what we hope to achieve this semester -- that is, introduce you to a rigorous (and fun) way of approaching your MSE courses and research using mathematics, computation, and visualization.

We will be drawing examples from concepts you have seen in your previous MSE courses (notably, stucture concepts from 3.010), courses you are taking concurrently (notably, thermodynamics concepts from 3.020), and courses you will take in subsequent semesters (notably, solid-state concepts from 3.033).

To be clear--this is a tall order. It means that, at times, you will be asked to code and visualize concepts that are new to you, and this may be challenging. Please trust that this approach will bear fruit, if not by the end of this semester then by the time you see these concepts again in your lecture-based courses.


This is the second iteration of the class, previously taught in the spring of 2022 by Dr. Georgios Varnavides If you want to get a feel for the topics we will cover this semester, you can find last year's materials by using the versions dropdown on the right.

The content on this website is jointly authored by Prof. W Craig Carter and Dr. Georgios Varnavides and constitute working drafts of material that will go into a materials science textbook they are writing.


  1. Goals

The goal of 3.029 is to give you tools to help you understand topics in materials science (and many other disciplines) better. These tools include mathematics, coding, visualization and just plain old critical thinking.

These tools also help you become a self-sufficient learner and a science explorer.

Your primary goal for you is to learn---not to discharge some assessment metric. My primary goal is to help you learn and to experience the joy I get from applying such tools to learn, explore, and amuse myself.

  1. 3.029 in Spring 2023

There are not very many students.

This is good and bad.

It's too bad other students won't be taking advantage of opportunities to learn topics from other subjects deeply.

It is very good in that we can tailor this semester's class to personal tastes and interests.

It is very good that I don't need to use traditional assessment exercises to give you a grade. I'll have opportunities to work with you and see you work.

All you have to do is participate in exercises and demonstrate to me that you are learning. It helps me if you are enthusiastic.

  1. Possible Modalities

I haven't written a syllabus yet because we have the flexibility to structure this subject together. I have some suggestions of things we can try this semester.

  • I can record videos of lectures the week before. You can watch and then we can work through the confusing parts together. This requires that you maintain the discipline to watch, otherwise getting together and talking through the material will be boring and frustrating. Moreover, if you are not watching the videos, I would would be doing a lot of work for no reason. I would also include videos that I have seen and learned from into the mix.

  • Each student can take turns setting a homework assignment. That homework assignment is to be solved by the other students and Prof Carter as a team.

  • I could skip traditional homework assignments: I could set a problem that I haven't solved and we can work through the solutions as a team.

  • You could do a special project with help from me. In this case, we would have some lecture times where only one student shows up and we work together.

  • We can brainstorm about other modalities.