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Title: Calculating derivatives within quantum Monte Carlo
Author: Poole, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 8892
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) methods are powerful, stochastic techniques for computing the properties of interacting electrons and nuclei with an accuracy comparable to the standard post-Hartree--Fock methods of quantum chemistry. Whilst the favourable scaling of QMC methods enables a quantum, many-body treatment of much larger systems, the lack of accurate and efficient total energy derivatives, required to compute atomic forces, has hindered their widespread adoption. The work contained within this thesis provides an efficient procedure for calculating exact derivatives of QMC results. This procedure uses the programming technique of algorithmic differentiation (AD), which allows access to the derivatives of a computed function by applying chain rule differentiation to the underlying source code. However, this thesis shows that a straightforward differentiation of a stochastic function fails to capture the important contribution to the derivative from probabilistic decisions. A general approach for calculating the derivatives of a stochastic function is presented, where a similar adaptation of AD applied to the diffusion Monte Carlo (DMC) algorithm yields exact DMC atomic forces. The approach is validated by performing the largest ever DMC force calculations, which demonstrate the feasibility of treating systems containing thousands of electrons. The efficiency of AD also enables molecular dynamics simulations driven entirely by DMC, adding new functionality to the QMC toolkit. Another focus of this thesis is using the phenomenon of stochastic coherence to correlate DMC simulations, allowing finite difference derivatives to be obtained with a small error. Whilst this method is far easier to implement than AD, preliminary results show an instability when treating larger systems. A different approach is obtained from extrapolating this method to a finite difference step size of zero, producing algebraic expressions for a direct differentiation of the DMC algorithm.
Supervisor: Foulkes, Matthew ; Spencer, James ; Haynes, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral