Quantum Chromodynamics on a space-time lattice – building up the femto universe of atomic nuclei on a computer

By Akira Ukawa

University of Tsukuba

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Everyone knows that all atoms are made of atomic nuclei and electrons around them, and that atomic nuclei are made of protons and neutrons bound by pions. Every scientist would know that protons and neutrons in turn are made of quarks, and are bound by gluons. Not every scientist may know, however, that, in spite of a particle-like description given here, quarks and gluons are described in terms of quantum mechanical fields extended over space-time. Quantum Chromodynamics on a space-time lattice, often abbreviated as lattice QCD, provides a computational framework to build up the universe of protons, neutron and atomic nuclei at femto-meter scales starting from the quark and gluon fields at sub-femtometer scales. In this lecture, we introduce the basic science of lattice QCD, describe the computational issues and algorithms of solution, and the impacts it has had on parallel computing. We also describe the world situation regarding lattice QCD today, and close with a few words on future perspectives.


Akira Ukawa is a Professor of Physics at Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba, Japan. He received PhD in theoretical particle physics from University of Tokyo, and carried out research at Cornell, CERN, and Princeton before returning to Japan. He has worked on large-scale numerical simulations of lattice Quantum Chromodynamics since its beginning in the early 1980's. For that work, he received the prestigious Nishina Memorial Prize in 1994. He was a senior member of the CP-PACS Project, which produced a massively parallel computer of that name which was ranked No. 1 in the Top 500 Supercomputer List in November 1996. From 1998 to 2007 he was the Director of Center for Computational Sciences, and pushed interdisciplinary research encouraging collaboration between scientists and computer scientists. He served as Vice President of University of Tsukuba for four years from 2008 before returning to a research career in April 2013.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Akira Ukawa (2013), "Quantum Chromodynamics on a space-time lattice – building up the femto universe of atomic nuclei on a computer," https://nanohub.org/resources/19312.

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