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Mathematics Group

About the Mathematics Group

Our Mission and Research

The Mathematics Group at LBNL develops new mathematical models, devises new algorithms, explores new applications, exports key technologies, and trains young scientists in support of DOE. We use mathematical tools from a variety of areas in mathematics, physics, statistics, and computer science, including statistical physics, differential geometry, asymptotics, graph theory, partial differential equations, discrete mathematics, and combinatorics. The problems we attack are both technologically interesting and mathematically challenging, and form a set of interrelated computing methodologies and applications in support of the DOE energy mission. 

One set of topics focuses on optimizing the manufacture and operation of engineering and industrial processes. Applications include semiconductors, coating rollers, inkjet printing technologies and microfluid effects, foams in manufacturing processes, new metals, granular mixers, coal hoppers, rolling tires, mode-locked lasers, wind turbines, vibrating RF MEMS devices for wireless communications, and dynamic fracture in bulk metallic glasses. Another set of topics focuses on tools for the analysis of energy processes, and includes stochastic methods in environmental science, data analysis for meteorological data, data synthesis for wind energy and large-scale ocean currents, seismic imaging, image processing and analysis for analyzing cellular structures, and complex fluid-membrane solvers for understanding the dynamics behind cellular development in new biofuels. and path planning for determining chemical accessibility in new materials such as zeolite and metal organic frameworks for gas separation sieves in carbon sequestration.

Tackling these problems with enough accuracy to be useful requires some of the most advanced computational resources. To that end, part of our work is aimed at developing the mathematics behind higher order accurate algorithms that naturally lend themselves to new architectures, where attention to communication, data exchange, and decompositions offer the opportunity for tremendous speedup.

Our program consists of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and visitors. The four principal investigators (Chorin, Persson, Sethian, and Wilkening) are all faculty at UC Berkeley. However, the close proximity of LBNL to campus and the far greater wealth of resources at LBNL makes it the attractive center of applied computational mathematics at Berkeley. This is reflected in the fact that all the graduate students, postdocs and faculty have a shared seminar space and offices. Together with the presence of NERSC and other computational resources, this makes LBNL a natural focal point and magnet.

Group Leader: James Sethian

About Berkeley Lab

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 16 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit