Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics



First Advisor

M. P. Nightingale


Solving the Schrodinger equation and finding excited states for quantum mechanical many-body systems is a fundamental problem. If this problem is formulated in terms of integrals, the dimensionality of the configuration space is often too high to perform the integrations required directly. This is because the volume of configuration space increases exponentially with dimension quickly, making its complete exploration impossible. Monte Carlo methods provide a way to estimate these integrals by statistically sampling a subset of configuration space, and these methods provide 1/√ N convergence regardless of dimension.

For many problems involving the quantum mechanics of molecules there exists a large time scale separation between the high-frequency internal vibrations, and low-frequency intermolecular motions. This separation motivates the rigid-body approximation which freezes internal degrees of freedom in order to study intermolecular effects. The reduction in the dimensionality of configuration space further increases the range of accessible problems. This thesis is devoted to the construction and implementation of algorithms which incorporate the rigid-body approximation into existing Monte Carlo methods for solving the quantum mechanical many-body problem.

Monte Carlo estimators are constructed as averages over samples drawn from some probability distribution. If this distribution is known in closed form the samples can be generated by application of the Metropolis algorithm. In most cases the distribution is not known in closed form or even representable with a finite number of variables. If this distribution is the dominant eigenstate of some known operator then a stochastic implementation of the power method can be used to generate the required samples. For the quantum mechanical problem this operator can be taken to be the imaginary-time evolution operator and its application can be represented in terms of random walks. For rigid bodies, this method involves the implementation of rotational Brownian motion. The use of quaternion algebra to implement this rotational motion enhances simplicity, performance, and numerical stability.

The method described above can be generalized to investigate excited state properties using correlation function Monte Carlo which is a Monte Carlo implementation of the Rayleigh-Ritz variational method. This generalization requires the construction of a trial subspace which is then subjected to the variational method resulting in a generalized eigenvalue problem.

It is important to represent optimized trial states accurately and efficiently. For this purpose, we write trial states as functions of invariant polynomials of the interparticle distances. By reducing the number of free interparticle distances, the rigid-body approximation greatly simplifies the construction of a basis used to represent the necessary trial states. The same applies to the so-called guiding function which is used to sample configurations that simultaneously represent all trial states.

A computer program is written to test these algorithms on a number of problems. Results for simple test problems are in agreement with exact solutions.



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