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Setting up a Windows PC for 780.20

This page provides descriptions and links to the programs you'll need to set up a Windows PC for Physics 780.20 Computational Physics. Up through 2006, 780.20 has been designed for a Unix environment (which includes emulations of such an environment on Windows, such as through Cygwin). However, starting in 2007 we have made Windows XP the default environment in Sm1094 since the majority of students have access to and experience with XP.

This is a work in progress! Please give feedback on errors and omissions (and any other suggestions are welcome).

Recent changes to this page:


IDE and Compiler [Dev-C++]

In the past we've only used the command line to do compiling, linking, and running of C++ codes. This is awkward on Windows, which means many of the advantages that motivated that approach are lost. We are working on learning how to use the command line more effectively (see shell below), but we'll start with using an IDE (which is worth learning in any case).

An IDE is an "Interactive Development Environment", which is an all-in-one editor, compiler, linker, debugger, profiler, dessert topping and floor wax. One choice is Microsoft's Visual Studio, but we will not be supporting it actively (you are welcome to use it if you don't need help with it). The current choice is Dev-C++, which is free and runs the GNU g++ compiler (and possibly others).

wxDev-C++ [Recommended]

This is an extension of Dev-C++. It's specially designed for creating wxWidgets applications, but is also nice for general use. For more info, visit the wxDev-C++ webpage.

Bloodshed Dev-C++

This is the standard Dev-C++, which has been used for the informal C++ seminars in Fall, 2005 and Fall, 2006. Use wxDev-C++ instead, if possible. For completeness and in case of any problems, we provide a download of Bloodshed Dev-C++ here. See also the Bloodshed Dev-C++ website.

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Libraries [GSL, Lapack]

We'll need the GNU Scientific Library or GSL, which we use for many standard computational library routines. We'll also need Lapack eventually for linear algebra, in either it's C or Fortran form.

Instructions for LAPACK still need to be tested.

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Plotting Program [gnuplot]

Generating graphs is an integral part of computational physics. You should have access to different plotting programs, based on different needs (2D vs. 3D plots, quick-and-dirty vs. publication quality, etc.). In 780.20 we'll use gnuplot for the most part. It is easy to learn and makes reasonable two-dimensional and three-dimensional plots.

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Editor [ConTEXT]

While using Dev-C++, you can use the internal editor, which is reasonable. But there will be times that you want a good external editor (e.g., for creating and editing gnuplot plot files or for when you are compiling at the command line). There are MANY choices, although not that many free ones. ConTEXT is one that looks good, but you should be able to use any one you want. Please send suggestions for other choices!

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[De-]Archiving Program

You need a utility to zip and unzip files (or possibly tarballs, if from linux). The 1094 computers use Winzip, which is a shareware program. You can find a comparison chart of file archives on Wikipedia.


7-Zip can open and create in most standard formats (.zip, .bz, .tar, .gz) and compresses better than many (or most) alternatives.

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Enhanced Command Line (Shell)

This is still under investigation. At present, the Microsoft Windows Powershell (available without charge or additional licensing) is a candidate.

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Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
[OSU Physics] [Math and Physical Sciences] [Ohio State University]
Physics 780.20 Computational Physics Information.
Last modified: 10:50 am, April 14, 2011.