Computational particle physics

Computational particle physics refers to the methods and computing tools developed by particle physics research. Like computational chemistry or computational biology , it is, for particle physics both a specific branch and an interdisciplinary field relying on computer science, theoretical and experimental particle physics and mathematics. The main fields of computational particle physics are: lattice field theory (numerical computations), automatic calculation of particle interaction or decay (computer algebra), and event generators (stochastic methods).

Computing tools

  • Computer algebra : Many of the computer algebra languages ​​were developed initially to help particle physics calculations: Reduce , Mathematica , Schoonschip , Form , GiNaC . [1]
  • Data Grid : The Largest planned use of the grid systems will be for the analysis of the LHC – Produced data. Large software packages-have-been Developed to supporting this app like the LHC Computing Grid (LCG) . A similar effort in the wider e-Science community is the GridPP collaboration, a consortium of particle physicists from UK institutions and CERN. [2]
  • Data Analysis Tools : These tools are motivated by the fact that particle physics experiments and simulations often create large datasets, eg see references. [3] [4] [5] Examples include ROOT , Java Analysis Studio and SCaViS .
  • Software Libraries: Many software libraries are used for particle physics computations. Examples include FreeHEP , CLHEP . Also important are simulate particle physics interactions using Monte Carlo simulation techniques (ie event generators). Prominent examples of these include PYTHIA , Geant4 and its Fortran predecessor, GEANT .


Particle physics played a role in the early history of the internet, the World-Wide Web was created by Tim Berners-Lee when working at CERN in 1991.

Computer Algebra

Note: This section contains an excerpt from ‘Computer Algebra in Particle Physics’ by Stefan Weinzierl

Particle physics is an important field of application for computer algebra and exploits the capabilities of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS). This leads to valuable feedback for the development of CAS. Looking at the history of computer algebra systems , the first programs date back to the 1960s. [6] The first systems were closely based on LISP (“LISt Programming language”) . LISP is an English language and, as the name already indicates, designed for the manipulation of lists . Its importance for symbolic computer programs in the early days compared to the importance of FORTRAN for numerical programs in the same period. [7]Already in this first period, the REDUCEprogram had some special features for the application to high energy physics. An exception to the LISP-based programs Was SCHOONSHIP , written in assembly language by Martinus JG Veltman and specially designed for applications in particle physics. The use of assembling code leads to an incredibly fast program, and the calculation of more complex scattering processes in high energy physics. It has been claimed the program’s importance in 1998 by awarding the half of the Nobel prize to Veltman. [8] Also the MACSYMA programdeserves to be mentioned explicitly, since it has triggered important development with regard to algorithms. In the 1980s new computer algebra systems started to be written in C . This enabled the exploitation of the resources of the LISP and the ability to maintain portability . This period also includes the appearance of the first commercial computer algebra system, among which Mathematica and Mapleare the best known examples. In addition, also a few dedicated programs appeared, an example relating to particle physics is the program FORM by J. Vermaseren as a (portable) successor to SCHOONSHIP. More recently issues of the maintainability of wide projects est devenu more and more significant and the overall programming paradigma changed from procedural programming to object-orienteddesign. In terms of programming languages, this article has been translated by a move from C to C ++ . Following this change of paradigm, the GiNaC library was developed. The GiNac library allows symbolic calculations in C ++.

Code generation for computer algebra can also be used in this area.

Lattice field theory

Lattice field theory was created by Kenneth Wilson in 1974. [9] Simulation techniques were later developed from statistical mechanics. [10] [11]

Since the early 1980s, LQCD Researchers-have pioneered the use of massively parallel computers in wide scientific applications, using all available computing systems Virtually Including traditional hand-frames, wide PC clusters , and high-performance systems. In addition, it has been used as a benchmark for high-performance computing , starting with the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer.

Eventually national and regional QCD grids were created: LATFOR (continental Europe), UKQCD and USQCD. The ILDG (International Lattice Data Grid) is an international venture comprising grids from the UK, the US, Australia, Japan and Germany, and was formed in 2002. [12]

See also

  • The Houches Agreements
  • CHEP Conference
  • Computational physics


  1. Jump up^ Stefan Weinzierl: – “Algebra Computer in Particle Physics.” pgs 5-7. Accessed 1 January 2012; (alternative link): “Computer Algebra in Particle Physics.” arXiv : hep-ph / 0209234. Accessed 1 January 2012. “Seminario Nazionale di Fisica Teorica”, Parma, September 2002.
  2. Jump up^ GridPP website : accessed 19 June 2012.
  3. Jump up^ Dirk Duellmann, “Oracle Streams for the Large Hadron Collider” , page 3. Accessed 1 January 2011.
  4. Jump up^ Liu M, W Kuehn et al. , “Hardware / Software Co-design of a General-Purpose Computing Platform in Particle Physics” , page 1. Accessed 20 February 2012.
  5. Jump up^ David Rousseau, “The Software Behind the Higgs Boson Discovery,” IEEE Software, pp. 11-15, Sept-Oct, 2012
  6. Jump up^ Stefan Weinzierl, op. cit.  : 3-5 pgs.
  7. Jump up^ Stefan Weinzierl, op. cit.  : 3-5 pgs.
  8. Jump up^ Stefan Weinzierl, op. cit.  : 3-5 pgs.
  9. Jump up^ Kenneth G. Wilson, Confinement of quarks, Physical Review D, 10, 1974, p. 2445-59
  10. Jump up^ David JE Callaway Aneesur and Rahman (1982). “Microcanonical Set Formulation of Lattice Gauge Theory”. Physical Review Letters 49 (9): 613-616. Bibcode 1982PhRvL..49..613C. doi: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.49.613.
  11. Jump up^ David JE Callaway Aneesur and Rahman (1983). “Lattice gauge theory in the microcanonical together”. Physical Review D28 (6): 1506-1514. Bibcode 1983PhRvD..28.1506C. doi: 10.1103 / PhysRevD.28.1506.
  12. Jump up^ Maynard CM: International Lattice Data Grid: Turn on, plug in, and download. Ch.2, pg. 3. arXiv: 1001.5207, 2010.