EECS 638/Physics 542/AP609
The University of Michigan
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Quantum Theory of Light
Winter 2010
LEC T,Th 10:00-11:30 W. Hall 335


Q1. Who is the instructor?
A. Dr. Steve Rand, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. See faculty listing at, research links on the course homepage or the website for the Nonlinear and Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory.

Q2. What are your office hours and where is your office?
A. My offices are rooms EECS 1112 and Randall Lab 2421. My office hours are on Central Campus, generally scheduled around lecture times.  For Winter 2010 they will be 11:30-1:00 pm on lecture days, in West Hall 2421.  If you need to see me at some other time, you should set up an appointment.  I am usually on North Campus - so please phone 763-6810 or send e-mail to schedule an appointment ahead of time.

Q3. Is there a course TA (teaching assistant) or grader?
A. No on both counts.  If you have any questions about course material or grading, you need to come to my office to talk them over.  Please, do not hesitate to talk about areas in which you feel weak - this will not have any effect on your grade whatsoever.  Our objective here is to strengthen the weak points that exist in everyone's background, as well as to exercise things with which you feel more comfortable.  So if you run into any problems, please let me know as early as possible in the course, so that we can identify hurdles and eliminate them ... before those little problems generate bigger ones, and you end up spending too much time just "keeping up".  It would be a pity to get less than the maximum out of this class because it could be extremely helpful for your research.  

Q4. Can I call about general problems with the course or homework problems?
A. You are welcome to call about problems after you've exhausted your own resources: talk to friends in the course, or students who have taken it before, go to the reserves for other references that offer different perspectives, etc. Please try to identify what you are having trouble with before you call/come as best you can. My number is 763-6810 and my e-mail address is

Q5. How will my grade in Physics 542/EECS 638 be determined?
Midterm Exam    30% (Perhaps two midterms 15% each)
Final Exam         35%
Homework         35%

Q6. Will the homework be graded?
A. Yes, homework is due every two weeks.  It will be graded and returned within a week. Solutions will be available in hardcopy version in the library, and on the course Website.

Q7. Is it OK for us to work together in bull-sessions on homework solutions?
A.  No, not if the session includes writing out the solutions. If you are uncertain about how much dicussion or collaboration is acceptable, just ask.

Q8. What textbooks are we using?
A.  A complete listing of texts and alternate sources kept on reserve at the library is given in the course outline.

Q9. What do you consider to be an acceptable problem solution?
A. Usually direct answers are expected for problems and these will be clear from the problem statement.  Occasionally you may be asked to graph results, and for this you may have to write a short program.  Graphs of two types may be needed to complete some solutions: (1) a cause-effect graph, on which the dependence of y on x is shown merely for the purpose of illustrating a general effect or a qualitative trend (2) an information graph, on which the dependence of y on x is presented for numerical purposes. Always make sure that:

a. Both axes are labeled with (1) the name of the variable, (2) the symbol for the variable, and (3) the unit used to express the value of the quantity.

b. Numerical scaling of both abscissa and ordinate is indicated.

c. A short title is provided.

If you're hopelessly hung up at some point in the problem solution, indicate in writing what you would do if you could get around the impasse. Marks are commonly assigned for "strategy" in homework and in exams.  Also, think about the significance of the problem result before handing in your work. Does your solution make sense, and are you asked to comment?  Whenever you are asked to comment, there will be marks assigned to the discussion of consistency or significance of the result.

Q10. What is EECS 638 all about?
A. The purpose of this course is to give students from physics, chemistry, applied physics, biophysics biomedical engineering and applied physics a firm grasp of core quantum mechanical procedures, concepts and applications that pertain to all areas of research that make use of light.  The course content is important grounding for research on topics where the microscopic detailed dynamics of systems is unknown but needs to understood. Whether the science is "classical" or "quantum" or "statistical" in nature, and whether the vector or momentum aspects of the light interaction are thought to be important in your research area - these things are not so important..  The techniques developed in this class are universally applicable and we end the course by discussing some very exciting "hot topics".

Q11. Is EECS 638 a tough course?
A. Your reaction to the course will depend on how much you work on it at the beginning.  Do not get behind.  We will start with a short review, and build up speed rapidly as we go along. Some topics at the end of the course are handled quickly despite their challenging nature - this will be the part of the course where your previous quantum mechanics background and insight and effort in the present course will become most valuable in assimilating the new material easily.

Q12.  What are the examination dates?
A.  Tentative timing for the examinations in this course is given in the course outline.  Firm dates will be announced in class and sent out to the class by e-mail.