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The evolution of the general-purpose computer in the last half century has been truly amazing. The peak speed of the fastest computer of the time has been improved by about 10 orders of magnitude in 50 years.

This unusually fast and long-lasting exponential growth has been the driving force for the advance of the entire field of numerical astrophysics. In many fields of numerical astrophysics, the improvement in the speed or memory capacity of computers has been essential. Of course, the improvement in numerical method and the progress in the understanding of the physical processes have been equally important, but without the exponential growth of the computer capability, the last half century of computational astrophysics would have been completely different.

This extremely rapid increase is expected to continue for the next 10--20 years [SMS95]. Thus, in principle, we could be quite optimistic on the future of our field. In practice, however, there are several reasons to be skeptical about the future. In this paper, I'd like to describe the problem, and what I believe is part of the solution.

Jun Makino
Fri Jun 5 15:55:17 JST 1998