Einstein Toolkit Development

The Einstein Toolkit is a community driven, open source, free frame to study relativistic astrophysics problems using computer simulations. It is used by many groups, spanning all continents (with the exception of Antartica), and is developed and supported in a distributed, collaborative manner.

The aim of the toolkit is provide core computational tools to enable new science, to broaden the community, and facilitate interdisciplinary research and the adoption of advanced cyberinfrastructure. The Einstein Toolkit is primarily based on the Cactus Computational Toolkit which provides a component model for developing and sharing code and tools for large scale parallel computing. The NCSA Gravity Group includes founders and long term contributors to the Einstein Toolkit and the Cactus Computational Toolkit.

We use the Einstein Toolkit for large scale simulation campaigns to study the gravitational waves emitted when two black holes orbit each other, spiral inwards and eventually merge. We use information from these simulations to create models for gravitational waveforms that are then used by scientists in LIGO to search for signals of merging black holes in LIGO’s data stream.

We are also very active in improving and extending the toolkit by optimizing its code, porting to new architectures, adding new physics to it and by contribution tools and utilities to handle simulation campaigns. Current projects at NCSA to develop the Einstein Toolkit include contributing to the integration of an independent code to solve general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (IllinoisGRMHD) into the Einstein Toolkit, providing an open, community data repository for simulation data, investigating the use of modern software engineering techniques and developing tools to automatically orchestrate and analyze simulations for eccentric black hole mergers.

Project Members: Roland Haas, Gabrielle Allen, Derek Glennon, Eliu Huerta, Daniel Johnson, Diyu Luo, Charalampos Markakis, Ed Seidel, Sibo Wang, Erik Wessel, Qian Zhang

Collaborators: We work with many other sites on the development and support of the Einstein Toolkit, including California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology and West Virginia University.


  1. NSF OAC-1550514 “SI2-SSI: Collaborative Research: Einstein Toolkit Community Integration and Data Exploration
  2. NSF CCF-1551592 “Inter-agency Workshop for Computational Science & Engineering Software Sustainability and Productivity Challenges (CSESSP Challenges)
  3. NCSA SPIN Program