Numerical Simulation in Physics

lphys1303  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Numerical Simulation in Physics
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
4 credits
22.5 h + 30.0 h
LMAT1121 and LMAT1131 or equivalent teaching units from another programme. Having followed and passed LPHYS1201 is an asset.

The prerequisite(s) for this Teaching Unit (Unité d’enseignement – UE) for the programmes/courses that offer this Teaching Unit are specified at the end of this sheet.
Main themes
IInitiation to numerical simulation in physics by solving partial differential equations using finite difference methods or spectral methods.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


a.     Contribution of the teaching unit to the learning outcomes of the programme


1.4 , 1.7,

2.1, 2.3, 2.4




6.1, 6.4


b.     Specific learning outcomes of the teaching unit


At the end of this teaching unit, the student will be able to:


1.     explain the importance and interest of numerical simulation methods in physics;

2.     analyse the stability, convergence and accuracy of a numerical method;

3.     compare alternative numerical methods for solving a differential equation;

4.     design a methodology for solving a given physical problem by numerical simulation;

5.     write a report on solving a physical problem by numerical simulation.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
1.     General introduction to numerical methods
2.     Finte difference methods
a.     Initial condition problem (ordinary differential equations)
b.     Boundary condition problem
c.     Diffusion
d.     Advection
e.     Waves
3.     Spectral methods for the resolution of
a.     ordinary differential equations
b.     partial differential equations
Teaching methods
- Classroom lectures (using slides).
- Exercises framed as small projects in computer room.
Evaluation methods
Evaluation of two written reports on the resolution of physical problems by numerical methods: (a) finite difference methods; (b) spectral methods.
- M. Holmes, Introduction to Numerical Methods in Differential Equations, Springer Texts in Applied Mathematics (52),  2007.
- L. N. Trefethen, Spectral methods in Matlab, SIAM publications, Oxford, 2000.
- D. Gottlieb et S. A. Orszag, Numerical analysis of spectral methods: Theory and applications, SIAM, 1986.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Physical Engineering

Bachelor in Physics

Minor in Physics