Winter 2023 — Mathematics for advanced materials science (VU)

The instructor for this course is Marc Technau ().

The contents of this website is subject to change. Please mind the time stamp at the bottom of this website. Dates are written in DD.MM.YYYY format (e.g., “01.02.2023” means “February 1st 2023”).


Th., 12:15–13:45, room NT·02·008 in Kopernikusgasse 24/II.


This course is aimed at students entering the master's programme “Advanced Materials Science” and having a background in chemistry. Given the time constraints, basic familiarity with mathematics at the level of the lectures Mathematik für ChemikerInnen 1 and Mathematik für ChemikerInnen 2 will be assumed. However, there is a substantial overlap with the aforementioned courses.

(Figure: illustration of the total derivative of a smooth function)

A guiding theme for this course is the desire for solving certain differential equations that arise in the study of physical phenomena. We shall start with examples of such equations whose solution naturally motivates complex numbers.
After reviewing fundamentals of complex numbers and the exponential function, we study the Laplace transform. This is a certain integral transform for which complex numbers play a prominent role, and which constitutes a useful tool for solving certain classes of differential equations.
Moreover, we shall give a review of selected aspects of linear algebra (in preparation of more advanced topics; see below): basic vector arithmetic, linear maps and their relation with matrices, determinants, elements of analytic geometry in two and three dimensions (distances, dot product, cross product) and a brief discussion of eigenvalues and eigenvectors.
This leads naturally to spectral theory of certain differential operators and we discuss the model example for this: Fourier expansion of periodic functions. As the attendees will have realised at that state of the lecture, these Fourier expansions turn out to be one of the most important technical tools for understanding certain phenomena in, for instance, solid state physics, where crystals are modelled as periodically repeating structures of atoms or molecules and the study of propagation of waves and heat in them is of considerable interest.
We return to the mathematics of wave and heat propagation towards the end of the course by studying the relevant partial differential equations. However, before being able to do so, we review selected aspects of the fundamentals of calculus in higher dimensions (with a strong bias towards at most three dimensions) starting with differentiability and moving on towards integration. Our ultimate goal here are the classical integral theorems of Kelvin–Stokes, Gauß and Green–Riemann which are ubiquitous in the study of electrodynamics.
Time permitting, the course then finishes after the aforementioned discussion of some selected partial differential equations (we shall restrict our discussion to linear second-order equations though).

The lecture-part of the course is aimed at discussing the topics listed above and show how to work with them. The exercise-part of the course is meant to give the attendees some practical skills in carrying out related calculations. The focus here is less on the theory and more on actual problem solving.

Online teaching

Recordings of the lectures from the Winter term 2022/23 are available on TUbe. Please ensure that you have successfully logged in in order to have access.

Grading policy

The final grade is derived from two aspects:

bi-weekly electronic submission of solutions to exercises, and
score from the written exam.

Details on these two aspects are expounded below. Given your score in each of the two aspects, and assuming that you have scored at least 30% of the points in the written exam, your final score η is calculated via the following formula:

η = 60% · (E) + 40% · (W).

(Here your score for each of the two aspects is understood to be the quotient of the points you have accumulated in that particular aspect and the maximum number of points attainable there.) Your grade is then determined from η and the following table:

Range for η Grade
85% ≤ η „Sehr gut“ (1)
70% ≤ η < 85% „Gut“ (2)
60% ≤ η < 70% „Befriedigend“ (3)
50% ≤ η < 60% „Genügend“ (4)
00% ≤ η < 50% „Nicht genügend“ (5)

Important note: If you score less than 30% in the written exam, then η = 0 (that is, your grade is „nicht genügend“).

Submission of solutions for exercises and having enrolled for the course via TUGonline implies the receipt of a grade for the course, unless the enrollment in cancelled before the end of October 31st via TUGonline. Conversely, staying enrolled beyond October 31st is necessary for receiving a grade for this course.

(E): Solving exercises

Exercise sheets will be posted on this website after each lecture. Solutions to every other sheet (2nd sheet, 4th sheet, 6th sheet etc.) are to be handed in during the next lecture. (Exceptions may occur and are anounced on the relevant exercise sheets.) The solutions will then be graded.

The solutions you submit must be your own. In this regard, please ensure take into account the plagiarism statute of the TU Graz (see here for an English version). Moreover, the use of artificial intelligence for this course is strictly prohibited. The right to award a failing grade in case of violations to the above statute shall remain reserved.

The exercise sheets not due for submission (1st sheet, 3rd sheet etc.) also contain material important for the written exam. It is strongly recommended that participants of the course also try to work on these exercise sheets.

(W): Written exam

There are two chances for taking the written exam: 07.02.2024 (12:00–14:00 o'clock in lecture theatre HS·H) and 28.02.2024 (10:00–12:00 o'clock, in lecture theatre HS·B). Each exam lasts 90 minutes (the reserved time slot is slightly wider for safety's sake).

If one takes part in both exams, then the score achieved in the second exam replaces the score from the previous one (regardless if it is higher or lower).

The students are allowed to bring two DIN-A4 sheets with notes (both sides of a sheet may contain notes). Further aids (e.g., calculators, smart watches, phones etc.) are not admissible.



Please note that all of the above books (excluding only Jänich's Analysis and the book by Kreyszig) are freely available online. (For downloading the Springer books you should be accessing the internet from the university's IP range.)

The books of Jänich are arguably quite advanced in that they aim at expounding a high-brow view on the subject matter (although they start from scratch). They do, however, have a quite unique style of giving a real explanation of why various results are true in a very insightful fashion that is hard to find anywhere else. They are especially recommended.
The book of Bärwolff contains essentially all of the material of this course (and more), but takes a rather more calculative approach that may serve some readers better.
The present course shall attempt to combine aspects of both approaches.

Lecture notes

The complete lecture notes are available here as one PDF file. They are for personal use only and are not to be distributed!

Exercise sheets

(The 11th sheet is the last exercise sheet.)