Astronomy 415: Fall 2024
Computational Astrophysics
This course will provide the astronomy student with a basic knowledge of numerical methods in astrophysics. By the end of the course students should be comfortable working in a Unix environment, compiling and running codes, and employing a variety of visualization techniques to analyze the results. This process will be motivated by concrete examples of modern problems in astrophysics that demand numerical approaches.
The exact details of the material covered will depend on the existing level of computer sophistication among the class participants. However, in broad outline the major course topics will include linear algebra, root finding, leastsquare fitting, Monte Carlo methods, numerical integration, Nbody methods, fluid dynamics, FFTs and timeseries analysis.
Schedule
Instructor: Massimo Ricotti TA: N/A Class: ATL 2428 Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00pm to 3:15pm First class: Aug 27 Last class: Dec 05
What's New?
Contact info and Notes
 Office: PSC 1156
 Email: ricotti "at" astro "dot" umd "dot" edu
 Phone: (301) 405 5097
 Office hours: TBD or by appointment
 Class web page: http://www.astro.umd.edu/~ricotti/NEWWEB/teaching/ASTR415_24.html
Course Outline
The Syllabus is available on ELMS and here: Syllabus.
Date  Lecture  Reading (NRiC)  Lecture Notes  Homework  

#1  Aug 27  Introduction to the course      Intro Architecture 
#2  Aug 29  Computer architecture  Computer architecture  class02.pdf  
#3  Sept 3  Introduction to UNIX  tutorial    Intro Programs 
#4  Sept 5  Introduction to C  1.11.2, tutorial    
#5  Sept 10  Examples in C and debugger  1.11.2, tutorial  GDB.pdf  
#6  Sept 12  Parellel Computing (CPU and GPU)  tutorial    
#7  Sept 17  Data representation  1.3  class05.pdf/pres05.pdf  HW1 due 
#8  Sept 19  Linear algebra, part 1 (GaussJordan elimination)  2.02.3  class06.pdf/pres06.pdf  
#9  Sept 24  Linear algebra, part 2 (LU & SVD decomposition)  2.42.6  class07.pdf/pres07.pdf  
#10  Sept 26  Root finding in 1D  9.09.1, 9.4, 9.6  class08.pdf/pres08.pdf  
#11  Oct 1  Root finding in multiD, and numerical differentiation  5.7  class09.pdf/pres09.pdf  HW2 due 
#12  Oct 3  Statistics and the KS test  14.014.3  class10.pdf/pres10.pdf  
#13  Oct 8  Leastsquares fitting  15.015.2, 15.415.5  class11.pdf/pres11.pdf  
#14  Oct 10  Random numbers and cryptography  7.07.2  class12.pdf/pres12.pdf  
#15  Oct 15  Numerical integration  7.6, 4.04.4, 4.6  class13.pdf/pres13.pdf  HW3 due 
#16  Oct 17  Integration of ODEs, part 1 (IVPs)  16.016.1  class14.pdfi/pres14.pdf  
#17  Oct 22  Integration of ODEs, part 2 (leapfrog)    class15.pdf/pres15.pdf  
#18  Oct 24  Integration of ODEs, part 3 (stiff ODEs & 2pt BVPs)  16.6, 17.0  class16.pdf/pres16.pdf  HW4 due 
#19  Oct 29  Integration of ODEs, part 4    class17.pdf/pres17.pdf  
#20  Oct 31  Nbody techniques, part 1    class18.pdf/pres18.pdf  
#21  Nov 5  Nbody techniques, part 2 (PP)  19.0, 19.419.6  class19.pdf/pres19.pdf  HW5 due 
#22  Nov 7  Nbody techniques, part 3 and 4 (PM)    class20.pdf/pres20.pdf class21.pdf/pres21.pdf  
#23  Nov 12  Integration of PDEs, part 1 (ell & hyp)  19.2  class22.pdf/pres22.pdf  
#24  Nov 14  Integration of PDEs, part 2 (hyp & par)  19.2  class23.pdf/pres23.pdf  HW6 due 
#25  Nov 19  Fluid dynamics, part 1 (eqns)  19.3  class24.pdf/pres24.pdf  
#26  Nov 21  Fluid dynamics, part 2 (methods)    class25.pdf/pres25.pdf  
#27  Nov 26  (TBD: Term project presentations or catch up)      Term Project Due 
  Nov 28  no class Thanksgiving      
#28  Dec 3  Term project presentations      
#29  Dec 5  Term project presentations      
  Likely not covered  Fourier transform, part 1 (intro)  12.012.1, 19.4  class26.pdf  
  Likely not covered  Fourier transform, part 2 (FFT)  12.2, 13.013.2, 13.4  class27.pdf  
  Likely not covered  Other topics    class28.pdf 
Textbooks
 There are no required textbooks
 Recommended:
 Numerical recipes [3rd Edition], by Press, W.H. et al.
Course Grading
 Homework 70%
 Participation 15%
 Term Project 15%
The homework is the most important part of the class. In class participation is strongly encouraged.
Class Survey Results
The starting level of computer and programming competence of the students in this class (measured the first day of class) is "Novice" as indicated by the result of the class survey. The survey results are available in PDF format. I will start the lectures with simple and, for some of you, obvious concepts and finish with more complex and challenging topics that should entertain even the most experienced students in the class.
Homework
Homework will be assigned every every other week and posted on ELMS. Their due dates will be announced at the time they are assigned. On the due date the students will be expected to turn in their homework on GitHub. The homework turned in will be graded and returned to the students. I will provide solutions (also posted on ELMS) and discuss them in class.
Link to Numerical Recipes sources in C and in FORTRAN: it is preferable to compile the recipes as separate files rather than cut and paste the functions into your source code.
Note that in order to use NRiC routines the easiest way is to include nr.h header file and nrutil.c and nrutil.h to use vectors and matrices. You can find these files here.
Homework assigned: posted on ELMS
You will turn in your homework using GitHub.
Tutorials

Old Class Notes

Useful Links
Tutorial on Python: PYTHON TUTORIAL Numpy: Numpy reference Matplotlib: Matplotlib reference Tutorial on Pointers: TUTORIAL ON POINTERS AND ARRAYS IN C Debugger's Links: Using GNU's GDB Debugger Debugging Floating Point Exceptions OpenMP links: OpenMP.org OpenMP Tutorial Wiki OpenMPCUDA and GPU computing: Nvidia webpage with examples to download Wiki OpenCL Wiki CUDA Check out the UMD Astronomy Computing Wiki! (In the listings below, a "W" link indicates a Wikipedia entry on the topic is available.) Online Tutorials
