The Glauber model
One of the staples of modeling of heavy ion collisions, is the Glauber model. It is one of the things all students have to go through starting out. The most remarkable thing about the Glauber model is its simplicity. It imposes a view of a proton-ion or ion-ion collisions, as the separate sub-collisions of several black disks. Some of the disks will interact, and some will not. This allows for a very inituitive understanding of a complicated system, as depicted below.
In the figure, a simulation of a proton-lead collision at LHC is depicted. The picture is taken from real simulation, that anyone with some introduction to Python programming can do. One of the other neat features of this model, is that it lends itself easily to computer implementation. If you are interesting in learning about this, I have written a small tutorial. that takes you through the most important steps of simulating the Glauber model, and using that simulation for an analysis.
To do the tutorial, simply download the pdf above and follow the steps, or you can pull the tutorial code directly using git, by doing:
git clone http://bierlich.net/git/glauber-tutorial.git
If you find any errors or misprints in the tutorial, I will appreciate it if you drop me a line.