The effect of quantization on the full configuration interaction quantum Monte Carlo sign problem

M. H. Kolodrubetz, J. S. Spencer, B. K. Clark, W. M.C. Foulkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sign problem in full configuration interaction quantum Monte Carlo (FCIQMC) without annihilation can be understood as an instability of the psi-particle population to the ground state of the matrix obtained by making all off-diagonal elements of the Hamiltonian negative. Such a matrix, and hence the sign problem, is basis dependent. In this paper, we discuss the properties of a physically important basis choice: first versus second quantization. For a given choice of single-particle orbitals, we identify the conditions under which the fermion sign problem in the second quantized basis of antisymmetric Slater determinants is identical to the sign problem in the first quantized basis of unsymmetrized Hartree products. We also show that, when the two differ, the fermion sign problem is always less severe in the second quantized basis. This supports the idea that FCIQMC, even in the absence of annihilation, improves the sign problem relative to first quantized methods. Finally, we point out some theoretically interesting classes of Hamiltonians where first and second quantized sign problems differ, and others where they do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024110
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 14 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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