Direct numerical simulation: A Tool in Turbulence Research

Parviz Moin, Krishnan Mahesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1268 Scopus citations


We review the direct numerical simulation (DNS) of turbulent flows. We stress that DNS is a research tool, and not a brute-force solution to the Navier-Stokes equations for engineering problems. The wide range of scales in turbulent flows requires that care be taken in their numerical solution. We discuss related numerical issues such as boundary conditions and spatial and temporal discretization. Significant insight into turbulence physics has been gained from DNS of certain idealized flows that cannot be easily attained in the laboratory. We discuss some examples Further, we illustrate the complementary nature of experiments and computations in turbulence research. Examples are provided where DNS data has been used to evaluate measurement accuracy. Finally, we consider how DNS has impacted turbulence modeling and provided further insight into the structure of turbulent boundary layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-578
Number of pages40
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 1998


  • Boundary layer structure
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Hot-wire anemometry
  • Numerical resolution
  • Shock waves
  • Turbulence modeling
  • Vorticity


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