Sat 30th July - Sat 6th August 2011
The Apuan Alps Centre for Physics @ TTI
Vallico Sotto, Tuscany, Italy

Summer school programme

The sixth international summer school in the series "Quantum Monte Carlo and the CASINO program" will take place during August 2011 at the TTI monastery in the Tuscan Apuan Alps in Italy, organized and hosted by members of Cambridge University physics department's Theory of Condensed Matter Group. The aim of the school is to give students a thorough introduction to quantum Monte Carlo as a method for performing high-quality calculations of the electronic structure of atoms, molecules, and materials. The course is designed for young quantum chemists or theoretical physicists who have no previous experience with this technique, though anyone interested is welcome to take part, including old people.

The monastery is a unique venue where the community spirit and magnificent location have inspired memorable workshops in the past. It is a delightful 16th century building incorporating an ancient church, and is situated in the isolated but spectacular setting of the Tuscan mountain village of Vallico Sotto. The church is fully equipped with relevant presentation and computer technology, and all accommodation is on-site. As with all events at the Institute, formal lectures are restricted to the mornings, and participants are given the freedom and space to think and to contemplate and discuss the issues at hand. In addition to hands-on exercises, a programme of healthy recreational activities will be organized in the afternoons, and it is hoped that by following this strict regime, together with breathing clean mountain air and by preparing and sampling fine Tuscan cuisine, the participant will be able to return home mentally and physically refreshed as well as better informed.

Describing the complex behaviour of materials at the atomic level requires a sophisticated description of the correlated motion of the electrons. Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) is an increasingly popular and explicitly many-body method with the unusual capability of yielding highly accurate results whilst also exhibiting a very favourable scaling of computational cost with system size. Over the last eighteen years, the Cambridge group have been researching QMC methods and we have created a powerful, general computer program - CASINO - to carry out the calculations. The school will focus both on the basic theory of QMC and on more advanced practical techniques, and will include a thorough introduction to the CASINO program. A background in density functional theory or similar - though not essential - is normally thought to be useful.

Quantum Monte Carlo and the scaling behaviour of CASINO on the fastest computers in the world were the subject of this month's Psi-k "Scientific Highlight of the Month" review article. See "Petascale computing opens new vistas for quantum Monte Carlo" by M.J.Gillan, M.D. Towler and D.Alfè, available for download here.

Instructors will include the main authors of the CASINO program (Dr. Mike Towler, Dr. Neil Drummond and Dr. Pablo López Ríos) and possibly others.

Participants would normally need to book a flight to Pisa airport from where onward transportation will be arranged (though other destinations are possible). Details of previous schools - including photographs - are available under the PUBLIC EVENTS link on the TTI web site.

Interested students should email Mike Towler (mdt26 at for registration and further details.

List of registered students:

Peter Agoston (Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany)
Sam Azadi (University of Mainz, Germany)
Gwendolyn Barnes (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Pascal Bugnion (University of Cambridge, U.K.)
Mauro Causà (University of Napoli, Italy)
Richard Dawes (Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA)
Alasdair Dunlap-Smith (Mount Allison University, Canada)
Immanuel Gadaczek (University of Bonn, Germany)
Dimitra Georgakaki (University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Katalin Gillemot (Lancaster University, U.K.)
Richard Hatz (University of Helsinki, Finland)
William Yim Wai Leung (Institute of High Performance Computing, Singapore)
Veera Krasnenko (University of Tartu, Estonia)
Andre Mirtschink (Free University of Amsterdam, Holland)
Bartomeu Monserrat-Sanchez (University of Cambridge, U.K.)
Olga Mula (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain)
Laszlo Oroszlany (Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary)
Tom Poole (Imperial College, London, U.K.)
Peizhe Tang (Tsinghua University, China)
David Visontai (Lancaster University, U.K.)
Yuning Wu (University of Florida, U.S.A.)
Orestis Ziogos (National Technical University of Athens, Greece)

Emails from students attending previous schools in this series

"I am really happy to see that you are preparing a new Casino Summer School in Vallico Sotto. It remains for me the most profitable workshop I have ever had, associating the top quality of lectures and the excellent practical training, making very difficult things to become accessible. It remains also for me the type of ideal ambience associating work, scientific discussion and entertainments."

"Just a brief note to thank you again for hosting the QMC summer school. I had a wonderful time in Tuscany, it was probably the best conference or school I've attended. The science was excellent, and the location, obviously, stunning. The Towler Institute is a very impressive place. Every one of the participants was a pleasure to spend time with, and I've come away with some friends with whom I intend to keep in contact."

"Thank you for organizing a great work shop. My wife was pleased to get me back but since I had such a great time has already agreed for me to make a return visit!"

"I wanted to thank you a lot for the opportunity you gave me, i had a very nice time in Vallico sotto, it actually opened a lot my mind... It was very nice to met you and your nice family, and to know that there are such a nice people with such a vision of physics and life, i hope i could see you guys again."

"Thank you for all. It has been a really nice summer school, and a pleasure to have such lovely days with you, your family, Pablo and Neil. You have made a really good job organizing everything, and making sure that everybody enjoyed this summer school. I am in a debt of gratitude with you."

"In the flight back from Italy to Germany i read the material you gave me about the cave, and specially i liked the story about the fat boy filter, i couldn't help laughing hard in the flight, i couldn't stop!, i'm very curious about that place and the another one the Palace of Ismeno, hopefully someday i could go there again and try to go into it, actually the school and its activities awoke on me a kind of desire of climbing, hopefully i find the time for it...."

"It has been fun & work - intellectually challenging to learn new 'stuff'. I wish you & Samantha great success in the endeavours connected to TTI, and hope to see you both soon."

"Thank you, Neil and Pablo for organizing this wunderful, refreshing sommerschool. I enjoyed it a lot (thought the scoreline somewhat less), and have learned some interesting aspects of QMC."

"Thank you very much indeed for the wonderful stay at your monastery/institute."

"Thanks for the wonderful week! You are an amazing host, and TTI is fantastic!"

"Thanks a lot for the opportunity you have given, at least my eyes have opened to a new world of research. I have to thank you for this."

"One more time thanks for one week pleasure."

"They were very nice days in Tuscany with learning many new subjects and also nice excursions."

"The school was a great blessing to me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet new brains and make new friends."

"Big 'thank you!' for this Summer School. Your organisation skills are impresive. It was a wonderful time, and I am starting to save up the euros to settle down in the Apuan Alps one day. Thanks also for setting up the website, I find it very useful and lots of fun."

"I would like to thank you for this great summer school. I really enjoyed the time I spent there."

"Thanks for everything. I will never forget this great week!"

"You bet how wonderful time I had (I believe others students did too) in this fantastic summer school!! I would like to quote a very popular Chinese poem to show my personal feeling of the almost ideal life in Vallico Sotto.

Song No. 5 of 20 by Tao Yuan-ming

I built my hut within where others live,
But there is no noise of carriages and horses.
You ask how this is possible:
When the heart is distant, solitude comes.
I pluck chrysanthemums by the eastern fence
And see the distant southern mountains.
The mountain air is fresh at dusk.
Flying birds return in flocks.
In these things there lies a great truth,
But when I try to express it, I cannot find the words.

This can be recited by almost every Chinese fellow. I am also grateful for the night of awesome firework, which was like special "time tunnel" to bring me back to my childhood. Thank you and thank you!! I was in a bit hurry I didn't bring camera with me, but the whole beautiful scenery has been deeply impressed in my memory, which is unfadable for sure.."

"I want to say again, 'Thank You for a good time in Tuscany'. All particular facets of school was great, including lectures, practice, place, people, activities, food etc. It was my first summer school (conference) but I think it shall be hard to find something better. Thanks."

"It was a pleasure to be in the summer school last week in Vallico Sotto, to meet you and your team, this "strange foreign people" (including myself), and Sammy and Saska. I liked very much the lectures, learned many things and enjoyed a lot our excursions and dinners. We really had a good time, congratulations on the organization of this fantastic enterprise. Thank you very much!"

"Thank you for hosting the wonderful summer school on earth. I had really enjoyed that :)"

"Thank you for a great week both when it comes to science and adventure. Now I really understand why people return to Tuscany. Hopefully we will too."

"Thanks for the nice time we spent at your place all together! It was very nice time, nice way to socialize and all lectures were extremely interesting!"

"Thank you - you, Neil and Pablo brought us such a fruitful and joyful summer school!!! I have learned so much about the technical parts of QMC as well as the related applied physical problems!! Including learning that QMC can describe the Van der Waale's interaction, description of the e-h phase diagram and the interesting discussion in your talk about the strongly correlated systems!! Not to mention that we got all those different options of activities every day to exercise our bodies after the brain exercises in the morning, besides the interesting monastery we took the lectures, slept in and had meals, tea and coffee!!! Really gratefully to you three for the wonderful time!!"

"I will advice your school to anyone on the earth"

"..thank you very much for organizing the conference -- it was amazing and I have a lot of fun memories! You're right that bringing a whole load of like-minded people together in one place at the same time is fantastic; it was great to have this unique experience before starting my PhD next year."

"Thanks again! Besides having fun and learning at the school, I'm truly impressed with what you did with the TTI and how the whole school was organized. I've been to a few before, but this was special!"

"First of all, I am really thankful for your help. It was the first time I participated to the such workshop and it was really helpful for me and I could learn many things during this summer school. I hope that such workshops will be continued as it indeed helps those who are interested in QMC."

"We enjoy a lot this amazing week. Thank you for all"

"Thanks for putting on the entire school and making it a wonderful (and well organised) week! I've never experienced quite the combination of excessive learning and excessive exercise."

"Thank you very much for arranging a special summer school. I am very much grateful to you. The excellent lectures, trips to mountains, beaches, caves, all lots of fun all the time. The stay at Tuscany will be a lifetime memory for me! You're wonderful. You did a great job. Long live QMC Summmer School. PS: Visit Nepal.."

"The summer school is an excellent in my whole life and I have really got inspired. I think every one who attends the QMC school will go back to home with great spirits. My words fail to explain how much I have enjoyed the lectures and outing trips. Thanks a lot for everything.. I will really miss you."

"Quero agradecer, o tempo, a simpatia, com que me receberar no vosso TTI. O meu sincero agradecimento pela possibilidade de evoluir e aprender com o vosso exemplo. A escola de verao foi moito mais do que QMC. A escola de verao foi una licao de vida. ... Com elevada estima e consideracao."

"I wanted to thank you a lot for organizing a great Summer school and for the opportunity you gave me to attend it. It was very nice to meet you, Neil, Pablo and your family. The quality of the lectures and the excellent exercises were making very difficult issues understandable for me. Your organizing skills are really impressive; I had wonderful time in Vallico Sotto. I truly enjoyed the outing trips and the dinners."

"This is the unique school i have got in my life which will be remembered through out my life. School with whole lots of adventures... Thank you."

"I'd like to thank again for this wonderful week! I think it gave me enough energy to start and finish my PhD studies... If that's not the case then I'm afraid that I have to visit Vallico Sotto again :)"

"I want thank you very much the amazing experience, I have learnt much about DMC and about its applications in molecules (when I finished my thesis I would like work in this field because you have shown me that it is a interesting area to work). It was nice to meet people like all of you. I hope to see you again. I am really grateful to you to enable climb Monte Procinto and to scale the waterfall too, because I think, it was been the most exciting adventure in my life."

"Thank you very much for everything. It just because of you we had a wonderful time. You are not only a [EMBARRASSING PRAISE DELETED] but a [EMBARRASSING PRAISE DELETED]. I will be grateful for the hospitality you provided in the summer school. .. Wishing you a very good luck and may God fulfil you with lots of joy and happiness. Hats off to you. Regards to the man."