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Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics b


From 2024/2025 onwards, this course will be split into two parts.

Admission requirements

Students must have completed Astronomy master's course Numerical Recipes in Astrophysics a.


In this course you will build on the knowledge gained in NUR A to learn how to code and use more specialist algorithms, which have a surprising range of utility, both in and outside of astrophysics.

The structure of the course is the same as in NUR A: during the lectures we will discuss numerics and consider and derive specific algorithms that are useful in astrophysics, and during the problem classes students will work together on applying this knowledge to a computational problem through coding.

The topics covered in the course are:

  • Fast Fourier transforms and applications

  • Solving ordinary differential equations

  • Basics of machine learning

  • Spatial partitioning

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course you will have a broader perspective on how to solve numerical problems, and have more tools available to tackle these.

In specific, after this course, you will be even better able to:

  • Evaluate the outcomes of computational codes

  • Construct an efficient computer program

  • Solve a wide array of astrophysical problems


See Astronomy master schedule

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go to the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method

  • Key assignments

  • Written exam

In addition to a written theory exam, there will be a coding exercise set that will count towards your final grade, under the condition that you achieved a passing grade on the exam. Both the exam and the hand-in exercise will count for 50% of your final grade.

Reading list

  • Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing, Third Edition (W.H. Press, S.A. Teukolsky, W.T. Vetterling, B.P. Flannery), ISBN: 9780521880688 (optional)


As a student, you are responsible for registering on time, i.e. 14 days before the start of the course. This can be done via Mystudymap. You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2. Please note: late registration is not possible.

Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from July; registration for courses in the second semester is possible from December. First-year bachelor students are registered for semester 1 by the faculty student administration; they do not have to do this themselves. For more information, see this page.

In addition, it is mandatory for all students, including first-year bachelor students, to register for exams. This can be done up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the exam or up to five calendar days in case of a retake exam. You cannot participate in the exam or retake without a valid registration in My Studymap.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: Dr. M.P. (Marcel) van Daalen


Soft skills
After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Work collaboratively on numerical problems

  • Program effectively