6.S084 The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering: Mastering Complexity


Units: 3-0-9
Prerequisites: Physics I (GIR)
Instructor: Professor Sanjoy Mahajan (sanjoy@mit.edu)
Schedule: TR1-2:30, room 4-231
Modes of reasoning to build insight and master complexity: by organizing complexity (divide and conquer, abstraction), by discarding without losing information (symmetry, proportional reasoning, dimensional analysis), and by discarding it while losing information (lumping, probabilistic reasoning, easy cases, spring models).  Applications from physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and engineering---including bird and machine flight, market sizes, weather, animal locomotion, piano tuning, and acoustic, electromagnetic, and gravitational waves.  Emphasis on low-cost experiments to test ideas and on fostering curiosity about phenomena in the world around us.