FYS4411 – Computational physics II: Quantum mechanical systems

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This is an advanced course on computational physics with an emphasis on quantum mechanical systems with many interacting particles. The applications and the computational methods are relevant for research problems in such diverse areas as nuclear, atomic, molecular and solid-state physics, chemistry and materials science.
A theoretical understanding of the behavior of quantum-mechanical many-body systems - that is, systems containing many interacting particles - is a considerable challenge in that no exact solution can be found; instead, reliable methods are needed for approximate but accurate simulations of such systems on modern computers. New insights and a better understanding of complicated quantum mechanical systems can only be obtained via large-scale simulations. The capability to study such systems is of high relevance for both fundamental research and industrial and technological advances.

The aim of this course is to present applications of, through various computational projects, some of the most widely used many-body methods with pertinent algorithms and high-performance computing topics such as advanced parallelization techniques and object orientation.
The methods and algorithms that will be studied may vary from year to year depending on the interests of the participants, but the main focus will be on systems from computational material science, solid-state physics, atomic and molecular physics, nuclear physics and quantum chemistry. The most relevant algorithms and methods are microscopic mean-field theories (Hartree-Fock and Kohn-Sham theories and density functional theories), large-scale diagonalization methods, coupled-cluster theory, and quantum Monte Carlo like Variational Monte Carlo and Diffusion Monte Carlo approaches. Methods to study phase transitions for both fermionic and bosonic systems can also be addressed.

Learning outcome

The course introduces a variety of central algorithms and methods for professional studies of quantum mechanical systems, with relevance for several problems in physics, materials science and quantum chemistry. The course is project based and through the various projects, normally two, the participants will be exposed to fundamental research problems in these fields, with the aim to reproduce state of the art scientific results. The students will learn to develop and structure large codes for studying these systems, get aquainted with supercomputing facilities and learn to handle large scientific projects. A good scientific and ethical conduct is emphasized throughout the course.

The course is also a continuation of FYS3150 - Computational physics, and it will give a further treatment of several of the numerical methods given there.


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Courses with less than three students registrered will normally be cancelled.


Two hours of lectures per week, and three hours of computer laboratory.


Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The course is based on three large projects which are evaluated and graded. The two first projects will count 25% of the final grade and the last project will count 50% of the final grade. Final letter grade based on the three projects. There is no final written or oral examination.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring

If the course is offered, a minimum of four students is required for ordinary lectures to take place. If less than four students participate, an exam will be given, but one should not expect ordinary teaching.


Every spring

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)