What is scientific computing

Scientific computing

Scientific computing is a third methodological approach in science alongside theory and experiment. His methods - mathematical modeling, simulation and optimization, image and data processing, visualization - have developed into a key technology for solving scientific and technical problems. Their areas of application range from the design of fuel cells and the optimal control of chemical plants to tumor diagnostics.
With the establishment of the “Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing” (IWR) in 1987, Heidelberg University saw this development early on and continuously promoted the methods. In mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science as well as in the life sciences, on which the IWR initially relied, the methods of scientific computing have long been indispensable. In recent years, however, they have also become increasingly important for economics and social sciences, psychology and cognitive sciences and, more recently, for the humanities and cultural sciences. Scientific computing thus forms a strong research framework and a method portfolio that links four Fields of Focus with one another.
Current examples of such overarching research topics in Scientific Computing are:

  • Development of two- and three-dimensional analysis methods for the virtual reconstruction of artifacts in the humanities (computational humanities);
  • Optimization methods for the analysis of human decision-making behavior in psychology;
  • Scientific computing in the environmental sciences, among other things, for research into highly non-linear dynamics, uncertain, heterogeneous multiscale parameters or stochastic drives;
  • Modeling and simulation of multi-scale processes in organic electronics.

The funds of the future concept are used to fund interdisciplinary cooperation projects: Scientists from at least two different disciplines work together in so-called “Twinning Projects”. The aim is to open up new areas of application and stimulate interdisciplinary cooperation within the university. A steering committee, in which not only experts in scientific computing but also representatives from all fields of focus are represented, decides on project funding.
Since the first funding phase of the Excellence Initiative, the “Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computer-Aided Methods for Science” has also been located at the IWR.