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Re: Calculating Fields etc - Another Approach

Leigh Palmer wrote:

I had a different objective in mind when I took up the task of
calculating a potential field on a spreadsheet. I wanted a
pedagogically useful algorithm which exemplifies the geometrical
meaning of Laplace's equation in the most transparent way
possible. I did not intend to discover the most rapidly
convergent algorithm for calculating the field.

I didn't catch exactly where these threads started. I thought they came
out of discussion about how charges distributed on conductors, but I
guess it was the other way around (or perhaps these were just parallel
threads). In any case, your pedagogical goals are similar to my own
when (as I alluded to) I setup such a spreadsheet for my students to
study several years ago.

I should say however that any of these numerical methods is based on its
own means of understanding the basic physics and can thus be used to
assist understanding. The reason I describe the Boundary Element Method
as elegant is that most students strike me as regarding "the solution to
these equations is uniquely described by the boundary conditions" as an
esoteric and slightly unbelievable piece of mathematics. I think that
actually assembling the correct solution from some straightforward
linear algebra on the boundary makes the statement and its utility much


Doug Craigen