2017: Fundamentals of Simulation Methods

25. July 2017

Winter semester 2017/2018

by Frauke Gräter and Rüdiger Pakmor

This lecture (MVComp1) is part of the specialization in Computational Physics within the physics masters degree at Heidelberg University. The objectives of this course are to endow students with the capacity to identify and classify common numerical problems, to reach an active understanding of applicable numerical methods and algorithms, to solve basic physical problems with adequate numerical techniques, and to recognize the range of validity of numerical solutions.


  • Basic concepts of numerical simulations, continuous and discrete simulations
  • Discretization of ordinary differential equations, integration schemes of different order
  • N-body problems, molecular dynamics, collisionless systems
  • Discretization of partial differential equations
  • Finite element and finite volume methods
  • Lattice methods
  • Adaptive mesh refinement and multi-grid methods
  • Matrix solvers and FFT methods
  • Monte Carlo methods, Markov chains, applications in statistical physics

Examples will include molecular and astrophysics problems.


The lecture takes place weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-11:00, in INF 227 / SR 1.403/1.404

Exercises will take place on Fridays, in INF 205 / PC-Pool SW 2

Prior knowledge in a programming language and experience with plotting software is highly recommended for the course. There will be a short written examination at the end, and active and successful participation in the homework/exercises is a prerequisite for participation in the final exam and obtaining the credit points for the lecture. The use of Moodle is foreseen for the lecture. Those of you who wish to acquire the credit points should please register to the Moodle (password will be announced at the first lecture).

Access to the script and exercises are provided through Moodle.


(more to come)

  • W. Hockney and J.W. Eastwood, “Computer Simulation using Particles”
  • P. Allen and D. J. Tildesley, “Computer Simulation of Liquids“
  • Randall J. LeVeque, “Finite Volume Methods for Hyperbolic Problems”
  • Toro, E.F. “Riemann Solvers and Numerical Methods for Fluid Dynamics”

About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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