Francesco Rao Research Group

Computational Physics SS12


[Course Program]

The goal of the class is to make students capable to perform molecular simulations. To this aim, the course is split in two parts. In the first part, the fundamental concepts behind computer simulations are introduced by means of interactive lectures (May-June). The second part is dedicated to practical computer labs.


Send an email to with your Name, Semester, Twitter account


Monday: 10-11
Friday: 10-12
Seminar room III, Physik Hochhaus


The course is organized around the concept of the interactive class.

In this approach, students study the course material on their own. Home reading is made interactive with the rest of the class through [twitter]. Lecture time is dedicated to discussion within the class on the topics prepared at home. Each new topic is introduced by the lecturer on Mondays, while the discussion takes place the next Friday.

After each of the Friday discussions a topic report is assigned to a student (all students have to write at least one report to get credits). This report is a two to three pages document (eventually including figures) where the topic of the discussion is explained in an organic way like it was a book chapter.

Lectures last till the end of June. July is dedicated to computer labs.


Home studying is shared live by the use of [twitter]. Weekly tweets posted by the students represent the starting point for the Friday discussions. Twitter participation is mandatory to get course credits. To this aim, each student is requested to submit at least three tweets per week containing each of them a key-concept on the studied topic. Tweets need to be original, no duplicates. When a tweet has been already submitted, a re-tweet will reinforce the relevance of the original tweet. This is also the case when an interesting concept is posted, re-tweeting will make it more relevant for discussion. Moreover, it is encouraged to use twitter to post questions and doubts as well as to share new discovered material such as pictures, videos or pages.

[twitter] is chosen as the major communication channel between the lecturers and the students outside the class. Specifically, all announcements, material or general information will be broadcasted from the twitter account [cphys12].

In summary, tweets are of the following forms:

  • 3+ key original concepts per week (mandatory)
  • questions or doubts
  • sharing further material from the students
  • announcement and material from the lecturers

Technical information on Twitter is given at the end of the document.

Computer Labs

During the month of July, students are engaged in a research project to learn howto to prepare, launch and analyze a realistic molecular dynamics simulation.

At the end of the course, all students will document their activity by writing a research report. This document contains a general background on the research performed, methods and results.


There is no final exam.

For the first part of the course, the evaluation is performed on

  • twitter participation
  • the topic report

The computer lab part is evaluated through the

  • the research report

Master students are required to attend to the [Molecular Dynamics seminars].

Appendix: howto use twitter

Few steps to make an account ready

  1. Register to []
  2. Follow
  3. When writing a tweet always include the text "@cphys12". In this way, lecturers will be immediately aware of the new post. For example, a valid tweet would be of the form:

    "Entropy always increases @cphys12"

  4. To check all the tweets posted to cphys12, search for @cphys12
  5. To re-tweet a message, use the retweet link appearing when you go over the post
  6. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, think carefully what you want to communicate!

To create a pdf from a list of tweets use [twdocs]

To share a link in a tweet, shortening the address using [bitly] is useful