Commission on Computational Physics (C20) - Report 2005
Activity Report of the C20 Commission (2002-2005)
Computational Physics covers wide research fields such as astrophysics, particle physics, material science, statistical physics, quantum chromo-dynamics and so on, and it has been proving usefulness both for better understanding of natural phenomena and for development of new technologies in industries. Simulations of nebular collisions, ab initio protein folding, prediction of temperature rising by global warming and aerodynamics for car industries are good examples. Especially, the importance of simulations on bio-related and nano materials has been emphasized for future industrial applications. Furthermore, Computational Physics in medicine and environmental problems is now realized to be two challenging new fields. For instance, all instrumentation in hospitals makes use of Computational Physics. However, these simulations have been developed in their own research fields and consequently seem to be rather independent of each other. To prompt further activities in Computational Physics, it was considered that one of the aims of the C20 commission was to activate more communications between these different fields.
The computational physics conferences were started in Boston in 1989 as international conferences supported by APS and EPS. A new conference series, CCP, (Conference on Computational Physics) was created on the recommendation of C20 in order to achieve the aim. This direction was strongly supported by Profs. Nadrchal and Camp, the former Chairmen of C20. Consequently, the CCP conference series is now being held in Europe, North America and the rest of the world on a three yearly cycle. The CCP series is the only worldwide conference on Computational Physics that has been financially supported by IUPAP since 1998. One reason for having CCP annually is that it is essential to share the knowledge of simulation skills developed in each field in order to take advantage of the continuing extremely rapid development of hardware and computational schemes such as GRID.
During the present term of C20 (2002-2005), the following CCP series were held. Firstly, CCP2003 was organized in Beijing, China, which was unfortunately postponed to the next year owing to the SARS crisis. But, since the meeting was the first joint conference with ICCP6 (International Conference on Computational Physics), it was a good opportunity to make CCP more popular in Asian countries. CCP2004 was held in Genoa, Italy with a great success having more than 400 participants from worldwide. The organizers of CCP2004 had a concern at the beginning that CCP2004 would be influenced by the postponement of CCP2003. But, there was no such influence at all fortunately. Finally, CCP2005 was held in Los Angeles, United States in conjunction with the annual March Meeting of APS, in which over 400 scientists registered for the plenary sessions and attendance reached over 600 for leading edge talks.
The C20 commission meeting was held during CCP2004 in Genoa, having the attendees of six members and one associate. The issues discussed there were 1) a review of the minutes of the previous meetings, 2) turning point in the activity of C20, 3) education and computational physics in third world countries, 4) updating of the C20 web page, 5) International Year of Physics 2005, 6) the teaching of computational physics to women, 7) preparation for 2005 General Assembly, 8) prize for graduate students, 9) list of associate members for C20, 10) possible venues for CCP2006. See the minutes at the IUPAP home page for detail.
The group of Prof. Drummond, the representative of Australia, prepared the web site of C20. It contains the overview of Computational Physics, the mandate and members of C20, conferences supported by IUPAP, meetings and reports in association with the C20 activities and software available for simulations. This home page is now seen at http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/BEC/C20/origin.htm and is to be linked to the IUPAP web site. Also, it is desirable to have linkages with home pages of the computational physics divisions of other societies for information exchanges.
The chapter of Computational Physics in Physics Now , IUPAP 39 was renewed by Profs. Kertesz, Ciccotti, Hansen, Borcherds, Drummond, Muenster and Hafner. It describes the latest trends in statistical physics, diffusion limited aggregation, many body systems and so on. Also, they mentioned a perspective of computational physics for the near future focusing on supercomputers.
One of the major subjects for the next generation of Computational Physics is multi scale simulations or multi physics in which different simulation methodologies are connected to reproduce complex physical systems. For instance, for fluids that contains chemical reactions, material simulations and CFD must be hybridized. Another challenge in bioinformatics is System Biology in which total behaviors of biological systems are reproduced by unifying several levels of simulations from micro to macro static. There are two key computer technologies to accomplish such multi scale simulations. One is considered to be GRID which consists of different types of computers like PC clusters and even special purpose computers, since each of such heterogeneous computers will handle components of hybridized codes for multi scale simulations in a proper way. GRID is also a new type of computer resource which is obtained by simply plugging PCs into the internet. This will definitely change our styles of computations and programming. The other is XML that is now becoming a common language to share the data among software. There are a few de facto standards for the XML description formats as seen at http://cml.sourceforge.net/schema/cmlComp and http://www.cineca.it/abigrid/workArea/QCMLdoc.html.
Regarding the promotion of Computational Physics in the developing countries, GRID must be very useful, since researchers of those countries are able to access supercomputers only through the network. But, this is not realized yet and thus the possibility needs to be studied by the new C20 commission members.
As is seen from the activities of the C20 commission mentioned above, the CCP conference series has an important role for the computational physicists to share the most advanced simulation technologies. To make it more concrete, the supports from more societies are indispensable. Thus, the C20 commission hopes that AAPPS (Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies) will support the CCP series as a society in the Asia and Pacific area. It is good news that AAPPS decided to support CCP2006 to be held in Gyeongju, Korea, which is believed to lead the CCP conference series to a new direction.