Numerical Techniques for Cosmology and Astrophysics

Period of duration of course
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Modalità esame



The course is suggested for Master students in astrophysics, PhD students in physics, PhD students in COMPAC, and PhD students in CMMMSF.

A working knowledge of at least one coding language suitable for scientific programming (e.g. C, fortran, python, julia, etc.) is recommended. Understanding of the cosmic structure formation process is suggested but not mandatory, since the needed basic concepts will be introduced during the lectures.


Topic of the course is the study of numerical methods for the solutions of problems in an astrophysical context, with the main focus on the galaxy formation process from cosmological scales. The course aims at providing a theoretical basis for the numerical integration of the equations of motion for self-gravitating N-body systems, along with the coupling between hydro and radiation dynamics. We will explore different numerical methods and analyze the strengths and limitations of state-of-the-art cosmological simulations techniques. The numerical algorithms will be presented paying close attention to their scalability, cost, and efficiency, in order to be able to exploit high performance computing facilities.

Note that a number of lectures are dedicated to hands-on sessions, in order to develop a practical understanding of the various techniques. Finally, the last few lectures are dedicated to specialized topics, which specific focus will be decided with the attendees.

Obiettivi formativi

  1. develop an understanding of the basic theoretical framework needed to set up cosmological and astrophysical problems.
  2. acquire a theoretical and practical knowledge of the numerical methods for gravitational N-body systems and hydrodynamics.
  3. obtain the ability to analyze pros and cons of the techniques used in state-of-the-art works and have a knowledge of current HPC tendencies.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Suggested book references are in the following and include a list of in-depth material/background material. References to specific works will be given during the lectures.


  •   Gnedin, Glover, Klessen, Springel      - Star formation in galaxy evolution: connecting numerical models to reality (2016, Springer)

further readings:

  •   Hockney, Eastwood                             - Computer simulation using particles (1988, IOP Publishing)
  •   Padmanabhan                                     - Structure formation in the Universe (1993, Cambridge University Press)
  •   Press, Teukolsky, Vetterling, Flannery    - Numerical recipes: the art of scientific computing (2007, Cambridge University Press)
  •   Toro                                                   - Riemann solvers and numerical methods for fluid dynamics: a practical introduction (2009, Springer)