Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Once in a Generation Opportunity to Honor 3 CFD Giants

If you are reading this blog, you most likely know what CFD is. You also probably have a favorite CFD solver or method, and know a few names associated with various algorithms, techniques, schemes, Riemann solvers...With the proliferation of CFD in many industries, the number of worldwide CFD users and developers is at least in the order of tens of thousands (one of the CFD groups on has more than 17,000 members).

The CFD community is a very diverse one. If a CFD History is written by people from different disciplines, you will likely get dramatically different versions. I googled "CFD History", and the top hit was Cincinnati Fire Department History, perhaps indicating no CFDer has seriously attempted to write a CFD History. This is not at all surprising since "CFD History" is so tightly related to how one learned CFD, which text book one read, and what literature one followed. My version of "CFD History" is presented next, from an aerospace engineer's perspective.

I discovered CFD during my last year in college, and was immediately fascinated. My favorite courses were Mathematics, Physics, Aerodynamics and Programming, but my undergraduate major was solid rockets, which did not use my skills that much. I started looking for a different field to pursue my graduate degree. A professor recommended CFD, and I knew right away that's what I wanted to do. During my senior design, I switched to CFD and was advised by Academician Zhang Hanxin. The first ever CFD paper I read was an AIAA conference paper authored by Professor Bob MacCormack, who solved the shock boundary layer interaction problem using his own famous method. The first CFD book I studied was Computational Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, by Anderson, Tannehill and Pletcher. The first scheme I published a journal paper on is the total variation diminishing (TVD) scheme, introduced to me by Professor Zhang. The TVD and high-resolution method related literature opened my eyes to many wonderful works (of art) by pioneers of compressible flow CFD including Boris, Chakravarthy, Godunov, Harten, Jameson, Lax, Osher, Roe, van Leer, Yee, ... who laid the foundation of modern shock-capturing methods.

For a graduate student studying CFD, the people mentioned in the last paragraph were like rock-stars.   They are all giants in CFD. I consider myself very fortunate to have met nearly all of them (except Harten and Lax), and become colleagues and friends with them over the years.

As mentioned in my previous blog, three of the CFD giants, Jameson, Roe and van Leer, will be honored in a symposium (JRV symposium), Four Decades of CFD: Looking Back and Moving Forward, to be held in San Diego on June 22-23, 2013. The objectives of the symposium are:

  • To provide an open and impartial forum for evaluating the current status of CFD
  • To learn from the past and chart the future of CFD in the coming decades

The three giants (or JRV) have not only made path-breaking contributions themselves, but also educated generations of CFDers, who are shaping CFD today. The symposium is open to participants from all over the world. A special invitation is extended to all former students of JRV by the organizing committee. Please come and share your fond memory. This is a once in a generation opportunity to honor all three giants together.

JRV Symposium web site:

I recommend a very funny Wine-Snob's Guide to Flux Functions from UM: