Computational Physics-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Computational Physics

Faculty: Rupert Croft
Markus Deserno
Tiziana Di Matteo
Michael Levine
Curtis Meyer
Colin Morningstar
John Nagle
Manfred Paulini
Robert Sekerka
Robert Swendsen
Michael Widom

Group Overview

Computational Physics is a rapidly growing and highly interdisciplinary research area. Carnegie Mellon features two main thrusts in Computational Physics: computer simulation and data mining/analysis. Researchers collaborate extensively with other departments at CMU such as Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Materials Science, Mathematics and Statistics. It is possible to obtain a Masters Degree in one of these Departments while pursuing PhD studies in Physics. A close relationship with the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center provides access to a superb team of professional computational scientists as well as ready access to the latest supercomputing hardware.

Member Research Thrusts

Rupert Croft simulates the growth of structure in the Universe including gravitational, hydrodynamic and radiative effects. The physical processes are complex, non-linear and interlinked. Analyzing the data from these models can explain the growth of stars, galaxies and larger structures.

Tiziana DiMatteo's research focuses on the formation and growth of black holes, and their interaction with galaxies and the rest of the Universe. Massively parallel hydrodynamic simulations are necessary to follow the gas dynamics, radiative cooling and gravitational evolution of hundreds of millions of mass elements. One of her current projects involves simulating the growth of black holes in the full cosmological context, starting from small fluctuations after the Big Bang and following the evolution of the Universe to the present day.

Mike Levine is co-director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center. He has developed computational hardware and numerical and algebraic algorithms to perform high order perturbative calculations in quantum electrodynamics.

Curtis Meyer's computational activities revolve around experimental studies of hadrons (particles built from quarks and antiquarks). The techniques employed are amplitude and partial wave analysis. Current activities are focused on the analysis of data from a Jefferson Lab (JLab) experiment which is used to search for baryons (excited partners to the familiar proton and neutron) in very large data sets that were acquired during the last two years.

Colin Morningstar uses lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) to investigate hadron formation and quark confinement. He has computed the mass spectrum of glueballs in the Yang-Mills theory of gluons, studied the excitation spectrum of the effective QCD string between a static quark-antiquark pair, and produced the first glimpse of the nucleon excitation mass spectrum from QCD. He is a member of a large nationwide collaboration of lattice QCD theorists dedicated to Monte Carlo calculations of QCD observables on large-scale computing clusters. He and Curtis Meyer built and maintain the CMU QCD cluster.

John Nagle performs Monte Carlo simulations of the thermal fluctuations of biological membranes. By matching experimental data to simulation, membrane structure and interactions are determined.

Bob Sekerka solves partial differential equations representing crystal growth to understand morphological instabilities leading to cellular and dendritic structures. Other interests include development of lattice-Boltzmann techniques to simulate solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations of hydrodynamics.

Bob Swendsen develops computational algorithms for the efficient simulation of phase transitions and novel data analysis techniques to extract information from these simulations. Additional work addresses methods for efficient simulation of biological molecules.

Michael Widom carries out Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations of metal alloys and employs ab-initio methods for band structure and total energy calculation. Other areas of interest are complex fluids and hydrodynamics.