University of Minnesota
CSCI 8980: Physics-Based Animation


This course is intended to introduce students to the mathematical and computational foundations of physics-based animation, and to enable them to understand, implement, and contribute to state-of-the-art techniques in the area. At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • apply standard numerical methods to solve ordinary and partial differential equations,
  • identify and discuss the key contributions and limitations of technical papers, and
  • implement and demonstrate state-of-the-art simulation techniques.


Familiarity with linear algebra and calculus is essential. If you’ve taken any of CSCI 2033, 4611, 5302, or 5304, that counts as sufficient background. Experience with computer graphics is recommended but not strictly required.


The course will consist of lectures by the instructor in the first half of the semester, followed by seminar-style sessions in the second half where students present and discuss state-of-the-art research papers. Students will turn in several programming assignments and brief paper reviews. At the end of the course, students will develop and present a project implementing one or more of the algorithms described in the class or novel techniques of their own.


There is no textbook for the course. Selected articles and course notes will be made available as the course goes on.

The following resources available online are likely to be useful:


Students will be evaluated on in-class participation, programming assignments, paper presentations, and the final project. There is no final exam. The grade breakdown is as follows:

  • In-class participation (10%)
  • Programming assignments (30%)
  • Paper presentations (30%):
    • Presentation (20%)
    • Paper reviews (10%)
  • Final project (30%):
    • Written proposal (15%)
    • Presentation (15%)

Extra credit: No extra credit opportunities will be provided in this course.

Late policy: You have three free late days for the whole semester, which you can use for the programming assignments and the project proposal. After that, each late day costs you 25% of the grade for that submission.


The following standard University of Minnesota policies apply to this course:

You are encouraged to talk to each other and discuss the coursework. As a part of academic honesty, any significant help received in the final project must be acknowledged in the final report or presentation.