[Beowulf] Physics Problems for Beowulf

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Feb 21 10:58:56 PST 2006

At 03:31 PM 2/18/2006, Timo Mechler wrote:
>Hello all,
>Over the past couple years I have done research one Beowulf clusters and
>also implemented the first one at my school.  Now that I'm getting closer
>to graduating, I'm looking of turning all this work into a senior project.
>  The only part that's missing though, is a good physics problem that I
>could code up a numerical solution for and run in parallel.  I have done
>some of this, but it's mostly been simple stuff, such as a simple
>numerical integration via the Monte Carlo method in parallel.  I know some
>of you on this list are professors and professionals that have extensive
>physics knowledge.  What sorts of physics problems would you suggest I
>might be able to code up that would take a some time run on a Beowulf
>cluster?  I'm going to be using Fortran 77 with MPI libraries as my base
>for coding.  Thanks in advance for your help on this, I appreciate it.
>Best Regards,
>-Timo Mechler

Electromagnetics problems are always interesting (to me, anyway).  For 
instance, you could do a method-of-moments calculation.  Or, for a more 
"gridded" kind of problem, some sort of FDTD (finite difference time 
domain) would be interesting.

On a more exotic nature, EM propagation modeling is quite computationally 
intensive, depending on the fidelity of the model.  An interesting one 
would be to model the propagation of the HF noise from lightning strokes 
via the ionosphere (which is a anisotropic medium) and drive it with actual 
lightning stroke data (as a spatial distribution) to determine the 
background noise level at any given point on the earth (and the directions 
of arrival).

Actually, a 3D model of the growth and propagation of a long spark in air 
is a fascinating problem (see, for example, "Spark Discharge" by Bazelyan 
and Raizer, published by CRC press)

Seismic and acoustic problems are fairly challenging, because of the 
nonlinearities and anisotropies of the propagation medium.

Heat transfer problems are interesting, and parallizeable.  Where would we 
be today if Fourier hadn't studied thermal distribution problems in making 

All manner of "inversion" problems with some sort of relaxation of an 
estimated model using a forward simulator. (i.e. given what you measure at 
the surface, what's the inside look like).

You could be a real friend to the impoverished archaeological community by 
figuring out how to invert surface conductivity measurements to small scale 
structural features, particularly if the surface isn't flat.  In the 1.5D 
world (i.e. a series of measurements along a line), someone's done this 
with Excel, so clearly, the theoretical math isn't mindbendingly complex.

Do something interesting to YOU!

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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