Questions on Studying Computational Physics in Undergrads

  • Thread starter Ashuron
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  • #1
Ashuron
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Well,

I just learned that my department offers a Computational Physics sequences for 1 year.

From the syllabus, it seems computational physics involves numerical analysis and some simulations.

I want to know, is this a subject by itself (meaning there are some researches going on it, say, improvement on algorithms) or this is just a method of analyzing physical phenomena?

And if this actually a field in physics, what are the usual requirements to pursuing it?
Do we need advanced programming, or using more direct tools, say, Matlab?

Sorry for asking a lot of things. The idea of using computers solving physics seems interesting. More info on this topic is helpful.

Btw I'm in sophomore year right now.
 

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  • #2
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Computational physics is the study and implementation of numerical analysis to solve problems in physics for which a quantitative theory already exists. The numerical analysis of differential equations is the basis of computational physics. Many problems in physics can be translated into a system of ordinary differential equations, which can be solved numerically.

Examples of problems that are amenable to computational physics are the simulation of quantum-mechanical systems, the study of shock waves, the propagation of light through optical systems, the dynamics of the Earth's interior, the modeling of the climate, the propagation of seismic waves, the motion of pedestrians, the motion of rockets, the motion of molecules, the behavior of materials, and so on. Computational physics is also important in the field of computational chemistry where computers are used to simulate the behavior of molecules.
 

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