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AstroSim is a Second Life based prototype application for synchronous collaborative visualization targeted at astronomers.
Traditionally, a simulation of a dense stellar system required choosing an initial model, running an integrator, and analyzing the output. Almost all of the effort went into writing a clever integrator that could handle binaries, triples and encounters between various multiple systems efficiently. Recently, the scope and complexity of these simulations has increased dramatically, for three reasons: 1) the sheer size of the data sets, measured in Terabytes, make traditional 'awking and grepping' of a single output file impractical; 2) the addition of stellar evolution data brings qualitatively new challenges to the data reduction; 3) increased realism of the simulations invites realistic forms of 'SOS': Simulations of Observations of Simulations, to be compared directly with observations. We are now witnessing a shift toward the construction of archives as well as tailored forms of visualization including the use of virtual reality simulators and planetarium domes, and a coupling of both with budding efforts in constructing virtual observatories. This review describes these new trends, presenting Starlab as the first example of a full software environment for realistic large-scale simulations of dense stellar systems.
FDPS provides the necessary functions for efficient parallel execution of particle-based simulations as templates independent of the data structure of particles and the functional form of the interaction. It is used to develop particle-based simulation programs for large-scale distributed-memory parallel supercomputers. FDPS includes templates for domain decomposition, redistribution of particles, and gathering of particle information for interaction calculation. It uses algorithms such as Barnes-Hut tree method for long-range interactions; methods to limit the calculation to neighbor particles are used for short-range interactions. FDPS reduces the time and effort necessary to write a simple, sequential and unoptimized program of O(N^2) calculation cost, and produces compiled programs that will run efficiently on large-scale parallel supercomputers.