Applied Mathematics at the U.S. Department of Energy: Past, Present and a View to the Future

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Over the past half-century, the Applied Mathematics program in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research has made significant, enduring advances in applied mathematics that have been essential enablers of modern computational science. Motivated by the scientific needs of the Department of Energy and its predecessors, advances have been made in mathematical modeling, numerical analysis of differential equations, optimization theory, mesh generation for complex geometries, adaptive algorithms and other important mathematical areas. High-performance mathematical software libraries developed through this program have contributed as much or more to the performance of modern scientific computer codes as the ... continued below

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PDF-file: 35 pages; size: 1.5 Mbytes

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Brown, D L; Bell, J; Estep, D; Gropp, W; Hendrickson, B; Keller-McNulty, S et al. February 15, 2008.

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Over the past half-century, the Applied Mathematics program in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research has made significant, enduring advances in applied mathematics that have been essential enablers of modern computational science. Motivated by the scientific needs of the Department of Energy and its predecessors, advances have been made in mathematical modeling, numerical analysis of differential equations, optimization theory, mesh generation for complex geometries, adaptive algorithms and other important mathematical areas. High-performance mathematical software libraries developed through this program have contributed as much or more to the performance of modern scientific computer codes as the high-performance computers on which these codes run. The combination of these mathematical advances and the resulting software has enabled high-performance computers to be used for scientific discovery in ways that could only be imagined at the program's inception. Our nation, and indeed our world, face great challenges that must be addressed in coming years, and many of these will be addressed through the development of scientific understanding and engineering advances yet to be discovered. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will play an essential role in providing science-based solutions to many of these problems, particularly those that involve the energy, environmental and national security needs of the country. As the capability of high-performance computers continues to increase, the types of questions that can be answered by applying this huge computational power become more varied and more complex. It will be essential that we find new ways to develop and apply the mathematics necessary to enable the new scientific and engineering discoveries that are needed. In August 2007, a panel of experts in applied, computational and statistical mathematics met for a day and a half in Berkeley, California to understand the mathematical developments required to meet the future science and engineering needs of the DOE. It is important to emphasize that the panelists were not asked to speculate only on advances that might be made in their own research specialties. Instead, the guidance this panel was given was to consider the broad science and engineering challenges that the DOE faces and identify the corresponding advances that must occur across the field of mathematics for these challenges to be successfully addressed. As preparation for the meeting, each panelist was asked to review strategic planning and other informational documents available for one or more of the DOE Program Offices, including the Offices of Science, Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Environmental Management, Legacy Management, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability and Civilian Radioactive Waste Management as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration. The panelists reported on science and engineering needs for each of these offices, and then discussed and identified mathematical advances that will be required if these challenges are to be met. A review of DOE challenges in energy, the environment and national security brings to light a broad and varied array of questions that the DOE must answer in the coming years. A representative subset of such questions includes: (1) Can we predict the operating characteristics of a clean coal power plant? (2) How stable is the plasma containment in a tokamak? (3) How quickly is climate change occurring and what are the uncertainties in the predicted time scales? (4) How quickly can an introduced bio-weapon contaminate the agricultural environment in the US? (5) How do we modify models of the atmosphere and clouds to incorporate newly collected data of possibly of new types? (6) How quickly can the United States recover if part of the power grid became inoperable? (7) What are optimal locations and communication protocols for sensing devices in a remote-sensing network? (8) How can new materials be designed with a specified desirable set of properties? In comparing and contrasting these and other questions of importance to DOE, the panel found that while the scientific breadth of the requirements is enormous, a central theme emerges: Scientists are being asked to identify or provide technology, or to give expert analysis to inform policy-makers that requires the scientific understanding of increasingly complex physical and engineered systems. In addition, as the complexity of the systems of interest increases, neither experimental observation nor mathematical and computational modeling alone can access all components of the system over the entire range of scales or conditions needed to provide the required scientific understanding.

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PDF-file: 35 pages; size: 1.5 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: LLNL-TR-401536
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/944335 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 944335
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894988

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 15, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

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Brown, D L; Bell, J; Estep, D; Gropp, W; Hendrickson, B; Keller-McNulty, S et al. Applied Mathematics at the U.S. Department of Energy: Past, Present and a View to the Future, report, February 15, 2008; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894988/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.