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A Computational Science Manifesto

D. E. Stevenson
Department of Computer Science
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-1906

April 23, 1993


This is a living document" which represents an ongoing project in the development of Computational Science.

1 The Challenge of Computational Science

1.1 What is Computational Science?

Computational Science (CLS) is an emerging discipline characterized by the use of computers to provide detailed insight into the behavior of complex physical systems. CLS is characterized by scientific problems for which computation is an essential part1. Computational scientists are conducting computational experiments which are either too expensive or, in fact, impossible to conduct in the real world. From a simple perusal of the scientific literature, it is clear that computer simulation is enormously fruitful in most fields: the interplay of experiment, traditional theory, and computational modeling has strong symbiotic results. The simulations can be used to provide unique insight into physical processes. In order to improve this capability, the power of supercomputing technology must be made available to the scientist and engineer. CLS is not a new epistemology but a new way of doing science and engineering. But it is an extension to scientific epistemology. It does mean a new metaphysics. That is, the requirements for the hypothesesexperiment cycle are not changed. Even without a clear definition of what CLS is, it is being practiced. Because of the lack of uniform recognition, there is no broad computational culture in science."

Yet computational science, besides being an essential component of almost every science, is an enabling component of an undergraduate curriculum: effective use of computation in the instruction program allows both the teacher and the student to go beyond the watered-down examples which lend themselves to easy analytic solutions and to tackle real-world problems." [7]

Obstacles to initiating or incorporating effective CLS programs:

ffl CLS is an emerging discipline. This makes it hard for outsiders to become familiar with the content, focus, promise, and importance. CLS impacts way many sciences are studied. In fact, CLS allows areas which could not be studied before to come under the scrutiny of researchers. In this case, we can say that CLS is an enabling discipline|enabling other disciplines to proceed with their unique programs.

1Definition by Daniel D. Warner, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Clemson University