Simulation Methods in Physics I WS 2012

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Lecture (2 SWS) and Tutorials (2 SWS)
Prof. Dr. Christian Holm (Lecture); Dr. Olaf Lenz and Dr. Jens Smiatek (Tutorials)
Course language
Time: Thursdays, 11:30 - 13:00
Room ICP, Allmandring 3, Seminarroom 1

The lecture is accompanied by hands-on-tutorials which will take place in the CIP-Pool of the ICP, Allmandring 3. They consist of practical exercises at the computer, like small programming tasks, simulations, visualization and data analysis. The tutorials build on each other, therefore continuous attendance is expected.

Scope of the course Simulation Methods 1

The first part of the course intends to give an overview about modern simulation methods used in physics today. The stress of the lecture will be to introduce different approaches to simulate a problem, hence we will not go too to deep into specific details but rather try to cover a broad range of methods. In more detail, the lecture will consist of:

1. Molecular Dynamics

The first problem that comes to mind when thinking about simulating physics is solving Newtons equations of motion for some particles with given interactions. From that perspective, we first introduce the most common numerical integrators. This approach quickly leads us to Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations. Many of the complex problems of practical importance require us to take a closer look at statistical properties, ensembles and the macroscopic observables.

The goal is to be able to set up and run real MD simulations for different ensembles and understand and interpret the output.

2. Error Analysis

Autocorrelation, Jackknifing, Bootstrapping

3. Monte Carlo Simulations

Since their invention, the importance of Monte Carlo (MC) sampling has grown constantly. Nowadays it is applied to a wide class of problems in modern computational physics. We want to present the general idea and theory behind MC simulations and show some more properties using simple toy models like the Ising-model.

4. Short interlude on Quantum mechanical systems

It is obvious that solving quantum mechanical systems analytically is not possible and we need numerical help. We also want to examine the possibilities to simulate the quantum chromodynamics PDEs on a lattice (lattice gauge theory).


We expect the participants to have basic knowledge in classical and statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and partial differential equations, as well as knowledge of a programming language (python or C).

Prerequisites for the examination

  1. Attendance of the exercise classes
  2. Obtaining 50% of the possible marks in the hand-in exercises

(In German: USL -V )

There will be a final grade for the Module "Simulation Methods" (this module consists of both lectures, Sim I plus Sim II and the exercise of Simulation Methods I) determined at the end of lecture Simulation Methods II. The grade will be determined in the following way : There is an oral examination (60 minutes) performed at (or after) the end of the course Simulation Methods II (SS 2012), where the dates are to be settled with the lecturer.

People taking other modules where this course is part of should contact the lecturer for optional other examinations.