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International journal publication for Abertay computing graduate

19 September 2013

A major international scientific journal has published undergraduate research conducted by a recent graduate of Abertay University.

Abdulaziz Elsheikh, who graduated from the undergraduate Computing course in July, had the results of his Honours project published in the leading international astronomy journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The research paper, entitled ‘Non-symmetric magnetohydrostatic equilibria: a multigrid approach’, is a collaboration between the Universities of Abertay Dundee, Glasgow and Northumbria.

The paper discusses how to model magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere, where magnetic forces balance those of plasma pressure and gravity. Investigating how these forces behave in the solar atmosphere is important for an understanding of solar flares and coronal mass ejections – the most violent eruptions in the solar system.

These phenomena are known collectively as space weather and can impact us directly on Earth by damaging satellites and knocking out power grids.  

Abdulaziz Elsheikh said: "Having my work published in an academic journal has been a perfect complement to concluding my Honours year and a great motivation for me to pursue postgraduate study and research, not to mention the prestige it has given my graduate CV.

“It is very rewarding to have your time and effort acknowledged at that kind of international academic level."

One of the biggest recent developments in scientific computing is the use of the graphical processing unit (GPU). This technology has been driven by the computer games industry but is now finding applications beyond computer games.

The architecture of the GPU is such that hundreds and thousands of scientific calculations can be performed in parallel, dramatically reducing the run-times of codes.

Under the supervision of Dr David MacTaggart, Abdulaziz parallelised his code on a GPU to calculate the 3D profiles of solar magnetic fields. He achieved impressive speed-ups of x30 over the serial code.

Dr David MacTaggart of Abertay University said: “The project illustrates that an important dialogue exists between computer games technologies and scientific computing.

“The techniques of one can bear fruit for the other. It will be interesting to discover what developments occur from this dialogue in the near future.”

The journal article is available online at the Astronomy & Astrophysics website.


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