Computational Physics

Computational physics jobs involve calculations and formulas. It combines physics, computer science and applied mathematics in order to provide scientific solutions to realistic and often complex problems.



Areas of application include environmental modeling, nuclear cleanup, the design of materials, ground water transport, the nature of elementary particles, medical imaging, and energy management. A computational physicist understands not only the workings of computers and the relevant science and mathematics, but also how computer algorithms and simulations connect the two.

Computational physics careers appear to be part of theoretical physics, but some consider it to be a separate discipline. Mathematical physics is different from computational physics because computational physics relies on a quantitative theory that already exits. The Journal of Mathematical Physics defines its subject matter as the "the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories."

The Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program at the U.S. Department of Energy promotes careers in computational physics and the use of tools to analyze, model, simulate, and predict complex phenomena important to the DOE. In 2001, it began the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program that supports many computational physics jobs. The program is focused on advancing scientific discovery using supercomputers performing trillions of calculations per second (tera‐scale). SciDACprojects are aimed at "developing future energy sources, studying global climate change, accelerating research in designing new materials, improving environmental cleanup methods, and understanding physics from the tiniest particles to massive supernovae explosions."


Educational Requirements

A physics degree is computational physics can qualify students for entry-level positions.


Average Salary 2013



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