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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

Spring 2007

PSY 458 • Experimental Psychology - W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43785 MW
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
SEA 2.116
LOVE

Course Description

Understanding complex systems such as economies, the weather, or human beings often requires developing computational models. In Psychology, these models allow researchers to simulate interesting behaviors, often providing insight and advancing our understanding of the mechanisms underlying our behavior. In this course, students will learn how to build models and simulate them. We'll consider a broad range of topics ranging from memory formation to group interactions.

No prior knowledge of computer programming is assumed, but complete novices will have to have a willingness to work hard to develop these new skills. The beginning of the course will be devoted to getting students up to speed on the Python programming language which we will use to build and simulate models. Subsequently, class will focus on lab assignments in which students will develop and simulate models of their own construction. These projects will be written up as lab reports. The course will involve a final project of the student's choosing. There will be no exams and assigned readings will be light. This course emphasizes thinking about complex phenomena (particularly in Psychology) mechanistically.

Grading Policy

Attendance and in class participation=20% lab assignments=60% final project=20%.

Texts

The textbooks (available at the coop) for the class are geared toward learning to program in Python: "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" by Allen B. Downey, Jeffrey Elkner and Chris Meyers Learning Python, Second Edition by Mark Lutz, David Ascher "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist" is also available online.

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