In 1925, physicist W. Lenz asked his student E. Ising to solve a statistical mechanics problem relevant to the magnetic properties of matter. Ising was able to solve it on a one-dimensional lattice. Almost twenty years were passed before L. Onsager found analytic solution to the two-dimensional version of the problem. The three-dimensional Ising model which is most relevant in the physical world has denied any serious attempt. Thus, any information we have is from approximations and numerical simulations.

Ising model and its generalizations are extremely important in our understanding of the properties of matter, especially the phenomena of phase transitions. Ising model is still actively used in various ways to model systems in condensed matter physics.

Members of Computational Science are involved in the development of fast simulation algorithms for Ising and other types of models in statistical physics.