2.25: Advanced Fluid Mechanics: Course Description Back to 2.25 Home


The suggested text is Introduction to Fluid Mechanics by James A. Fay (MIT Press, 1994), available at the Coop. Reading assignments in Fay's book will be given in the course outline, which is handed out topic by topic in class. The book is at the advanced undergraduate level, but covers most of the topics dealt with in the lectures. The lectures will cover some material with greater rigor or different emphasis; special notes will be provided for selected topics. Students are responsible for material covered in class or indicated in the course outlines.

Knowledgeable students will be able to read equally profitably from alternative texts, provided they are in the habit of reading broadly and searching out references that satisfy them on the fundamentals.

A second book, Advanced Fluid Mechanics Problems by Ascher H. Shapiro and Ain A. Sonin, is required for all students. This book is available from Claire Sasahara in Room 3-258 at cost, which will be about $15. Used copies may be available from students who have taken 2.25.

Homework Problems and Tutorial Sessions

Homework problems from Shapiro and Sonin's Advanced Fluid Mechanics Problems are indicated in the course outline for each topic. The homework problems are not to be turned in. Instead, they will be discussed in the tutorial sessions. Three tutorials are scheduled per week, but the idea is that each student should come to one session each week, usually the same one. Three sessions are scheduled, partly to accommodate a variety of student schedules and partly to reduce the class size and allow for a more informal atmosphere for discussion.

The main purpose of this course is not so much to feed the students with "advanced" material (the topics covered do not in fact appear terribly advanced) as to help them develop a mastery of the underlying principles and the ability to solve, quickly and efficiently, a variety of real fluid mechanics problems from basic principles. The lectures present and illustrate the fundamental principles, methods and modeling approximations that form the basis of fluid mechanics. The problems and tutorials help the students gain a mastery of the material and to develop, by practice and trial and error, the mindset of an effective problem solver in fluid mechanics.

Both the assigned problems and the tutorials are entirely voluntary. No problem sets are collected, nor is roll call taken, except to help the instructors remember the students' names. However, based on repeated experience over many years, you may take our word that your chances of doing well in this course are minimal if you do not independently do at least the assigned problems before the tutorials, and use the tutorials to repair weaknesses and develop new insights. We are ready to help you in every way to master the course material. There is, however, a profound difference between being taught and learning.

Examinations and Grading

There will be two one-hour quizzes during the term, announced well in advance. In order to minimize time pressures, we prefer to give the (nominally) one-hour quizzes in the evening starting at 7 pm, and give the students until 9 pm if they wish.
There will be a three-hour final exam.

Quizzes and the exam will be open notes (although we may limit the amount of notes you are allowed to bring in). They will not present you with routine problems, but will probe for mastery of the underlying material and for skill in modeling problems in the simplest possible realistic terms.

Grading will be based on equal weight between the two quizzes and the final exam.

You can gain extra credit by turning in, at the conclusion of the final exam, a notebook in which you have reworked and amplified your lecture notes in cohesive, clearly reasoned form. This is not obligatory, and that your grade will not suffer if you do not do it: grades will be assigned before the notebooks are examined, and only upward adjustments will be made thereafter. However, thinking through and rewriting the lecture notes, preferably on the same day as the lectures and in consultation with a text, is one of the most effective forms of study, and well worth the effort. Please do not bother to turn in a pretty version of what is on the blackboard: extra credit will be given only when it is apparent that thought has gone into the rewriting.