Optics Simulations: A Python Workshop

TitleOptics Simulations: A Python Workshop
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGhalila, H., A. Ammar, S. Varadharajan, Y. Majdi, M. Zghal, S. Lahmar, and V. Lakshminarayanan
Journal14th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (Etop 2017)
PaginationUNSP 1045218
ISBN Number0277-786X; 978-1-5106-1382-9; 978-1-5106-1381-2

Numerical simulations allow teachers and students to indirectly perform sophisticated experiments that cannot be realizable otherwise due to cost and other constraints. During the past few decades there has been an explosion in the development of numerical tools concurrently with open source environments such as Python software. This availability of open source software offers an incredible opportunity for advancing teaching methodologies as well as in research. More specifically it is possible to correlate theoretical knowledge with experimental measurements using "virtual" experiments. We have been working on the development of numerical simulation tools using the Python program package and we have concentrated on geometric and physical optics simulations. The advantage of doing hands-on numerical experiments is that it allows the student learner to be an active participant in the pedagogical/learning process rather than playing a passive role as in the traditional lecture format. Even in laboratory classes because of constraints of space, lack of equipment and often-large numbers of students, many students play a passive role since they work in groups of 3 or more students. Furthermore these new tools help students get a handle on numerical methods as well simulations and impart a "feel" for the physics under investigation.