MOOC at the Department of Physics

The massive open online course (MOOC) concept has already transformed the way people around the globe can access education. The Ẻcole normale supérieure has decided to be an actor in this movement and it’s an opportunity for the Department of Physics to engage in this adventure.

An on-line course of Statistical Mechanics will soon be available. The instructor will be Werner Krauth, head of the Department of Physics, assisted by Alberto Rosso, Vivien Lecomte, and Michael Köpf.

This course will discuss the computational approach in modern physics in a clear yet accessible way. Individual modules will contain in-depth discussions of algorithms ranging from basic enumeration methods to cutting-edge Markov-chain techniques. Emphasis will be put on applications in classical and quantum physics. The focus will be on subjects such as Monte Carlo sampling, molecular dynamics, transition phases in hard-sphere liquids, simulated annealing for solving geometrical constraints, perfect sampling of classical spin models, to aspects of quantum Monte Carlo algorithms, Bose-Einstein condensation, and many-body physics with fermions. The emphasis is on orientation. Discussion of implementation details will be kept to a minimum.

The course will be entirely self-contained. It will heavily rely on concise algorithms (each with between 10 and 50 lines of Python code). Modules lead from elementary discussions to the rich and difficult problems in contemporary physics, and will be of interest to a wide range of students in the natural sciences.

First course is scheduled on February 3, 2014.

To sign up, please go to