Computational physics may be broadly defined as ‘the science of using computers to assist in the solution of physical problems, and to further physics research’.

Computers now play a role in almost every branch of physics and the following list provides some examples of areas that lie within the scope of computational physics:

  • Large scale quantum mechanical calculations in nuclear, atomic, molecular and condensed matter physics
  • Large scale calculations in such fields as hydrodynamics, astrophysics, plasma physics, meteorology and geophysics
  • Simulation and modelling of complex physical systems such as those that occur in condensed matter physics, medical physics and industrial applications
  • Experimental data processing and image processing
  • Computer algebra; development and applications
  • The online interactions between physicist and the computer system
  • Encouragement of professional expertise in computational physics in schools and universities

The huge increase in the power of computers in recent years has made an impact on the role of computational physics. In some cases, entire problems can now be solved computationally without the need for any experimental input. Computer graphics and visualisation now play an important role in the scientific process as they can provide a greater understanding of physical processes. Advances in microelectronics, numerical analysis and computer science all impact on computational physics and so, it is important that practitioners of the subject are aware of developments in these fields.

The membership of the Computational Physics Group is currently around 1150. It includes those working in all the areas outlined above and is drawn from industry, academic institutions and government research organisations.

The Group arranges specialised meetings on topics such as condensed matter simulations, applications of parallel computing. algebraic computing, image processing and computers in physics teaching, often in collaborations with other groups or organisations external to the Institute. The Group regularly organises symposia at the annual Condensed Matter and Materials Physics Conference (CMMP). The subjects covered at these symposia are often chosen to maintain cross-links between members of the group working in different fields. The Group has representation on the European Physics Society allowing international co-ordination.

We produce a newsletter at least once a year, which contains news of group activities, articles covering exciting applications of computational physics and announcements of meetings and events. To submit a contribution to the Newsletter, please contact Marco Pinna (mpinna@lincoln.ac.uk).