Undergraduate Course: Computational Astrophysics (PHYS11037)
Course Outline
School  School of Physics and Astronomy 
College  College of Science and Engineering 
Credit level (Normal year taken)  SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) 
Availability  Available to all students 
SCQF Credits  10 
ECTS Credits  5 
Summary  This course provides an introduction to advanced computational techniques used for numerical simulations in astrophysics involving gravity and/or fluids. The topics include Nbody methods for solving gravity problems and numerical hydrodynamics techniques for fluids.
Astrophysical topics for which the methods are used include cosmological simulations of structure formation in the Universe, the evolution of stellar systems (galaxies and star clusters), the formation of stars and planetary systems, and the collisions of neutron stars and black holes as a model for gammaray bursters. For more information on the sort of topics to which the methods are applied, please see: http://www.roe.ac.uk/~aam/ecca.
Although the examples are drawn from astrophysics, the methods taught are applicable to a wide range of problems in computational physics. The course is continuously assessed on the basis of course exercises and a computing project: there is no Degree Examination. 
Course description 
¿ Ability to adapt existing direct Nbody packages to solve a new problem of physical or astrophysical interest. This includes sufficient awareness of the algorithms on which the codes are based to alter the initial conditions appropriately, understand the output, check the accuracy of the results, and manipulate and display them using standard unix tools.
¿ Ability to formulate and understand the equations relevant for hydrodynamics in conservative and nonconservative form.
¿ Ability to discretise the equations relevant for hydrodynamics in conservative form.
¿ Ability to numerically implement as computer code a subset of the equations relevant for hydrodynamics.
¿ Knowledge of concepts of source terms, Eulerian and Lagrangian formulations, implicit and explicit formulations, finite difference approximations, finite difference/volume/element methods.
¿ Ability to describe the ParticleMesh method of solving the Poisson equation.
¿ Ability to numerically implement as computer code a subset of the equations relevant for ParticleMesh simulations.
¿ Ability to explain properties of the Discrete Fourier Transform.
¿ Ability to express the equations for gravitational dynamics in Fourier space.
¿ Understand the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) implementation of the hydrodynamics equations.
¿ Have an understanding of the situations in which a Lagrangian treatment (as used by SPH) may be more appropriate than a Eulerian treatment.
¿ Understand the different techniques for calculating the gravitational force  direct versus PM versus TREE code.

Information for Visiting Students
Prerequisites  None 
Course Delivery Information

Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1)

Quota: None 
Course Start 
Semester 1 
Timetable 
Timetable 
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) 
Total Hours:
100
(
Lecture Hours 16,
Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 3,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
79 )

Assessment (Further Info) 
Written Exam
0 %,
Coursework
100 %,
Practical Exam
0 %

Additional Information (Assessment) 
4 items of coursework  50%
project  50%
Visiting Student Variant Assessment
4 items of coursework  50%
project  50% 
Feedback 
Not entered 
No Exam Information 
Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, a student should be able to demonstrate understanding of and be able to show:
Ability to adapt existing direct Nbody packages to solve a new problem of physical or astrophysical interest. This includes sufficient awareness of the algorithms on which the codes are based to alter the initial conditions appropriately, understand the output, check the accuracy of the results, and manipulate and display them using standard unix tools.
Ability to formulate and understand the equations relevant for hydrodynamics in conservative and nonconservative form.
Ability to discretise the equations relevant for hydrodynamics in conservative form.
Ability to numerically implement as computer code a subset of the equations relevant for hydrodynamics.
Knowledge of concepts of source terms, Eulerian and Lagangian formulations, implicit and explicit formulations, finite difference approximations, finite difference/volume/element methods.
Ability to describe the ParticleMesh method of solving
the Poisson equation.
Ability to numerically implement as computer code a subset of the equations relevant for ParticleMesh simulations.
Ability to explain properties of the Discrete Fourier Transform.
Ability to express the equations for gravitational dynamics in Fourier space.
Understand the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) implementation of the hydrodynamics equations.
Have an understanding of the situations in which a Lagrangian treatment (as used by SPH) may be more appropriate than a Eulerian treatment.
Understand the different techniques for calculating the gravitational force  direct versus PM versus TREE code.

Additional Information
Course URL 
http://www.learn.ed.ac.uk 
Graduate Attributes and Skills 
Not entered 
Additional Class Delivery Information 
7 hour(s) per week for 3 week(s). Workshop/Tutorial Sessions as arranged. 
Keywords  CAstr 
Contacts
Course organiser  Prof Avery Meiksin
Tel: (0131) 668 8355
Email: A.Meiksin@ed.ac.uk 
Course secretary  Miss Paula Wilkie
Tel: (0131) 668 8403
Email: Paula.Wilkie@ed.ac.uk 

