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Computational Physics

  1. Mar 6, 2005 #1
    I am senior in college and I will be graduating in May 2005. I am about to complete my undergrad in Engineering Physics but I decided that I wanted to go more into the I.T. field for grad school since I have decided that I don't think I want to do physics. I researched a field call Computational Physics and I was wondering does anybody know exactly what it is and what it deals with as far as computers go.

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  3. Mar 6, 2005 #2


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    As far as I know Computational Physics deals with Physics numerical modelling, I think. Surely you'll have to acquire a solid basis on numerical calculus and its application to physic events.

    For instance, there are many people from Computational Physics who do research in Computational Fluid Dynamics.
  4. Mar 6, 2005 #3


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    Yeah, numerical solutions of PDEs, integral equations ... , using finite element, finite difference, meshless, etc. discretization methods. Advanced knowledge on PDEs is a must, most places have tailored courses for the methods themselves (numerical calc is a good beginner for all that). Knowing the physics of what modeling in depth is crucial as well (and differentiates great and not as great computational guys), and lots of the work is coding so that needs to be in good order as well.
  5. Mar 6, 2005 #4


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    Perennial gave a very good list, and I would add to that, in particular, the knowledge of the monte carlo (or quantum monte carlo) technique. Practically anything dealing with analysis of particle colliders (which typically employs a huge number of computational physicists) will deal with this technique.

    The other important point that Perennial brought up is that you MUST know physics intimately. If you look at the job listings that I have mentioned before, practically all jobs involving computational work are looking first and foremost, physicists that can write computer codes, rather than computer science majors who happened to know physics. In many cases, it is you who have to come up with the theoretical model to use, and then write codes for that. To be able to do the former, you have to know the physics.

  6. Mar 7, 2005 #5


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    I'm seeing the latter chapter as a "typical day in the life of a computational physicist". To further emphasize - stochastic & probabilistic methods are increasingly being applied even in fields of (computational) physics previously working in pretty much a deterministic world (unification over length scales progresses) ... and I feel these are easier to master early on, it has proven tough for many to turn their heads away from the deterministic ways of thinking once getting too accustomed to it.
  7. Mar 7, 2005 #6

    Computational Physics is NOT an IT field.

    As others have said, its physics research done by computer simulation. You're a physicist first, programmer and computer scientist second.
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