Philosophical Aspects of Simulations in Astrophysics and Cosmology

August 9, 2021 - August 10, 2021
The Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of California, Irvine

Social Science Tower
United States


  • Rotman Institute, Western University
  • Center for Cosmology, University of California Irvine

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University of Bern



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Simulations have played an essential role in the advancement of astrophysics and cosmology in recent decades, and they will only grow more indispensable as astrophysicists pursue a deeper and more complex understanding of the highly nonlinear processes at the heart of galaxies, clusters, and the universe itself.  However, these methods do not come without challenges and costs.  This workshop will bring together physicists and philosophers to explore the epistemological and methodological issues raised by simulations.  The first day will focus on code comparisons:  What lessons can we draw from comparisons between different simulation codes, especially large-scale comparison projects such as AGORA and AQUILA?  What are the difficulties associated with comparing a diversity of complex simulations?  The second day will broadly focus on questions of model complexity: Given the limitations on our ability to test against complete analytic solutions, how do the variety of tests and methods available work together to warrant confidence in complex simulations?  To what extent do the highly nonlinear interactions between model components raise worries about “kludges” or other difficulties in diagnosing the sources of inaccuracies in simulation?

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August 6, 2021, 9:00am PST

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