Vibrations and Waves

This course offers the you the chance to explore the many aspects of Vibrations and Waves and how they appear in physics, ranging from simple mechanical systems, to the light that we see, and even to the quantum realm.

Vibrations and Waves

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archived.
5,542 already enrolled!
Estimated 18 weeks
12–15 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

Skip About this course

A foundational study of waves and vibrations will prepare learners for advanced courses in physics and related fields of engineering. The skills utilized in analyzing these phenomena are applicable to many different systems because vibrations and waves are so ubiquitous. For instance, learners will understand how the “resonant” modes of a tall building are analogous to simple systems of coupled oscillators. Moreover, learners will come to appreciate that the concept of “resonance” applies not only to systems of masses on springs, but to sound waves, 2D surfaces, atoms, and a wide range of other systems. This course explores many properties that are universal to all wave systems as well as many particular cases.

This course will prepare learners to analyze problems that involve mechanical vibrations and waves with such topics as simple harmonic motion, superposition, damping, forced vibrations and resonance, coupled oscillations, normal modes, continuous systems, reflection and refraction, and phase and group velocities. The course also explores electromagnetic waves and various associated properties like polarization, Snell’s law, Huygens’s principle, interference and diffraction. It ends by giving learners a taste of Quantum Mechanics.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Physics
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    Physics: 8.01x Mechanics and 8.02x Electricity and Magnetism [link to resources]

    Math: 18.01x Calculus and 18.02x Multivariable Calculus

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Driven vibrations and resonance
  • Vibrations of continuous systems
  • Properties of sound and electromagnetic waves
  • Polarization and polarizers
  • Waves at interfaces and in media
  • Interference phenomena

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.