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ACM Challenges

The following is a selection of problems which continue to drive the development of the field at large.

Climate prediction

  • Physical challenge: complicated - coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice dynamics plus atmospheric chemistry and evolution of the biosphere
  • Mathematical challenge: cannot accurately predict the weather in 100 years, so algorithms have to be validated statistically: what is the climate in 100 years?
  • Computational Challenge: required computer power is huge, massively parallel algorithms necessary

Molecular dynamics

  • Computational Challenge: simulation of large systems over very long times (relative to the smallest relevant near-atomic subsystems)
  • Physical challenge: Quantum vs. classical dynamics; accounting for the environment
  • Mathematical challenge: How to characterize molecular states and sample possible transitions between them well; coarse-graining and reduced models


  • Mathematical challenge: Reconstruct a three-dimensional representation of the body only from multiple two-dimensional projections - an underdetermined problem
  • Physical challenge: model the properties of the X-ray detectors as best as possible
  • Computational Challenge: be fast, want images in real-time

Image sources: Screenshot of ClimatePrediction.net v5.15 running under Boinc v5.4.9 from Wikipdedia; chest CT scan with lung metastasis from Wikipedia; simulation of protein-protein docking by Jacobs faculty member by Martin Zacharias.


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