General Physics I

Welcome to the General Physics I course, PHY 317K. This page describes the section taught by Professor Vadim Kaplunovsky in Fall of 1999 (unique #56135). Other sections should have their own web pages.


The General Physics courses 317K and 317L are intended for pre-meds and other students with similar interests. The 317K course covers Mechanics, Mechanical Waves and Thermodynamics.

The textbook for the General Physics courses is Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick and Walker (5th edition). There are both two-volume and one-big-book versions. For the 317K course you need the first volume or the first half of the combined book (chapters 1 through21); the second volume or the second half of the combined book is used by the 317L course (General Physics II).

Please read the relevant sections of the textbook both before and after the lecture. During the lecture, I shall focus on the more difficult material and may leave some other material un-explained or semi-explained, but you are expected to learn everything in the (relevant sections of the) textbook anyway -- and you will be tested for this knowledge.

Due to time shortage (the book is intended for a 4-unit course), I shall skip some material to give better coverage to more important subjects. From time to time, I shall announce some sections of the texbook I am going to skip altogether; you ought to read those sections anyway, but you will not be tested for that material.

Occasionally, I shall distribute a few pages of supplementary reading material. You should study such material as if it was part of the textbook.

General Information

Professor Vadim Kaplunovsky.
  • Reserved office hour: Mondays, 3 to 4 PM, in RLM 9.304.
  • Other office hours (I am likely to be in my office and available, but no guarantees): Mondays, 2 to 3 and 5 to 6PM, Wednesdays and Fridays, 2:30 to 6 PM.
  • Phone: 471-7773
  • Email:
  • Grader:
    Mykhailo Fomyts'kyi.
  • Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 to 12 AM, in RLM 9.222.
  • Email:
  • Phone: 420-8708
  • Lectures:
    On Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30 to 5 PM, in Painter hall PAI 2.48.
  • Attendance is mandatory.
  • There will be 10-minute pop-quizes during some lectures. To encourage attendance of all lectures, I will not announce pop-quizes in advance.
  • Disruption of lectures will not be tolerated. Persistent or egregious disruptiveness will lower your grade (possibly, all the way to F).
  • Review sessions:
  • Trigonometry review: September 7 (Tuesday), 5:30 to 7PM, in room EBS 2.23.
  • Pre-exam review (chapters 1, 2): September 14 (Tuesday), 5:30 to 7PM, in room EBS 2.23.
  • Pre-exam review (chapters 4, 5, 6): October 12 (Tuesday), 6 to 7:30PM, in room WEL 2.304.
  • Pre-exam review (chapters 7, 8, 9): November 9 (Tuesday), 6 to 7:30PM, in room RLM 5.116.
  • Pre-exam review (static equilibrium and fluids): November 29 (Monday), 6 to 7:30PM, in room RLM 5.122.
    This review may be cancelled at the last moment because of instructor's illness.
  • Exams:
    There will be four hour-long quizes during the semester and one comprehensive final exam at the end.
  • The quizes will be given in regular classtime, in the usual classroom.
  • The first long quiz will be held on September 16 (Thursday).
  • The second long quiz will be held on October 14 (Thursday).
  • The third long quiz will be held on November 11 (Thursday).
  • The fourth and last long quiz will be held on November 30 (Tuesday).
  • The final exam will be held on December 11 (Saturday), from 7 to 10 PM (ouch), in PAI 2.48 (our usual classroom).
  • There will be no make-up exams.
  • Homework

    Homework for this course will be assigned weekly, beginning on the second class day (August 31). Most homework problems will be taken from the texbook, but I will also add a few of my own. Each assignement will be posted on the web page

    Each homework set is due a week from the day it was assigned. I shall collect finished homeworks in class; please do not bring them to my office or mailbox.

    Grading Policy

    The grades are based on the combined score compised of:

  • Fifteen (15) percent of the average homework (percentage) score. To allow for emegencies, the avearaging skips two worst homeworks of the semester. (Missing homeworks count as zero score, so missing one or two homeworks does not hurt your grade, but if you miss three or more, your grade will suffer.)
  • Fifteen (15) percent of the average pop-quiz (percentage) score. Again, the two worst (or missing) pop-quizes are skipped from this average.
  • Forty five (45) percent of the average persentage score of three best hour-long quizes. (Fifteen percent for each quiz). The worst quiz or one missing quiz are ignored. If you miss two or more quizes for any reason whatsoever, you are SOL; there will be no substitute quizes.
  • Twenty five (25) percent of the percentage score of the final exam.
  • To allow for unexpected difficulty or ease of the tests, I will wait for the final exam results before setting the brackets for the ABCDF letter grades in terms of the combined scores. After the second long quiz is graded, I will announce tentative brackets to let the students know how well they are doing in the course thus far; these tentative brackets will change after every test, so don't rely on them for your final grade. In any case, a 90% or better score will earn an A, an 80% or better score will earn at least a B, 70% -- at least a C and 60% -- at least a D. Most likely however, the grading brackets will be much more generous.

    Final Grades

    For security reasons, your final grades are no longer available at this server.

    Grading Procedure

    Four your information, I have used the following procedure in assigning your final grades:First, I calculated your combined scores as described above (this score is reported to you as the Grand Total on the grades page). Second, I applied the following brackets:

  • A+: Scores above 95%.
  • A : Scores between 85% and 95%.
  • B : Scores between 75% and 85%.
  • C : Scores between 60% and 75%.
  • D : Scores between 40% and 60%.
  • F : Scores below 40%.
  • Finally, I took a close look at the entire record of each student. Besides the combined score, I considered how much effort a student put into the course and whether his/her performance improved or deteriorated during the semester. Consequently, I judged that several students with marginal B+ or C+ scores deserve a higher grade and I adjusted their grades accordingly.

    The semester is over. Have a nice holiday.
    Last Modified: March 11, 2003.
    Vadim Kaplunovsky