R. Phillips, M. Dittrich and K.Schulten
Annual Review of Materials Research, 32, 219–233 (2002).
Computation is one of the centerpieces of both the physical and biological sciences. A key thrust in computational science is the explicit mechanistic simulation of the spatiotemporal evolution of materials ranging from macromolecules to intermetallic alloys. However, our ability to simulate such systems is in the end always limited in both the spatial extent of the systems that are considered, as well as the duration of the time that can be simulated. As a result, a variety of efforts have been put forth that aim to finesse these challenges in both space and time through new techniques in which constraint is exploited to reduce the overall computational burden. The aim of this review is to describe in general terms some of the key ideas that have been set forth in both the materials and biological setting and to speculate on future developments along these lines. We begin by developing general ideas on the exploitation of constraint as a systematic tool for degree of freedom thinning. These ideas are then applied to case studies ranging from the plastic deformation of solids to the interactions of proteins and DNA.