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The Importance of Zeroth-Order Approximations in Molecular Quantum Mechanics


The work herein is concerned with developing computational models to understand molecules. The underlying theme of this research is the reassessment of zeroth-order approximations for higher-level methods. For second-order Moller-Plesset theory (MP2), qualitative failures of the Hartree-Fock orbitals in the form of spin contamination can lead to catastrophic errors in the second order energies. By working with orbitals optimized in the presence of correlations, orbital-optimized MP2 can fix the spin contamination problem that plague radicals, aromatics, and transition metal complexes. In path integral Monte Carlo for vibrational energies, the zeroth-order propagator is typically chosen to be the most general possible, the free particle propagator; we chose to be informed by the molecular structure we have already attained and apply a propagator based on the harmonic modes of the molecule, improving sampling efficiency and our Trotter approximation.

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