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Computational Science and Physics at Illinois Tech

By Grant Bunker, Chair and Professor, Physics

Physicists have long used computers in research. The modern stored program computer architecture was conceived and implemented by mathematician and physicist John von Neumann in 1945, inspired by Alan Turing’s theoretical ideas. In physics, computers are used to test theoretical models against observations, to analyze experimental data, and to serve as virtual experiments in themselves.

Initially “computers” were human individuals. Later, computations were done by carefully choreographed groups of humans operating mechanical calculators; later yet, by electronic computers that were based on vacuum tubes, then transistors, then CPUs; and nowadays by carefully choreographed clusters of CPUs and GPUs.

Another very different computational approach that was used by physicists employed analog computers, which (among other things) solved differential equations by devising electronic (or fluidic) circuits whose behavior was a mathematical analogue of the behavior of the physical system of interest.

Computation is an essential, pervasive, educational, and fun aspect of doing physics at Illinois Tech. More »

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First Year Experience


Physics’ Limestall Wins Civic Tech Challenge, Part of ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza 2016
Co-terminal physics/health physics student William Limestall (BS PHYS/MHP 4th year) and his team won the Civic Tech Challenge... read more
Physics Ph.D. Candidate Rachel Seibert Wins Second Place in ORNL Research Competition for Study of SiC Layers in TRISO Fuels
Rachel Seibert, a Ph.D. candidate in condensed matter physics, won second place in a research poster competition at Oak... read more
Physics’ Dan Kaplan Reports Crucial Step in Muonium Antimatter Gravity Project
Led by Physics Professor Dan Kaplan, the Illinois Tech Muonium Antimatter Gravity project has demonstrated picometer precision... read more
Illinois Tech Physics Researchers Part of PROSPECT Collaboration Awarded $3 Million by Department of Energy
Illinois Tech physics researchers are part of the Precision Oscillation and Spectrum Experiment (PROSPECT) awarded $3 million by... read more
Physics’ Jeff Terry Receives DOE Grant
A team consisting of Physics Professor Jeff Terry, Yong Yang (PI), University of Florida, and Yiren Chen, Argonne National... read more


Sam Zeller - Neutrino physicist, co-spokesperson of MicroBooNE experiment, and head of Neutrino Physics Department, Fermilab
Oct 6, 2016 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Physics - Colloquia - 152 Life Sciences
Oct 6
Kamlesh Suthar - Mechanical Engineering Specialist, Argonne National Laboratory
Oct 20, 2016 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Physics - Colloquia - 152 Life Sciences
Oct 20
Rocky Kolb - Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago
Oct 24, 2016 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Physics - Lecture - 111 Life Sciences
Oct 24
Nov 10, 2016 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Physics - Colloquia - 152 Life Sciences
Nov 10