Summer School

Quantum Monte Carlo
and the CASINO program X

The tenth international summer school in the "Quantum Monte Carlo and the CASINO program" series took place from Saturday 23rd July to Saturday 30th July 2016 and involved 38 people (including 26 students) from 14 countries.

The purpose of the school was to provide the students with a thorough working knowledge of the quantum Monte Carlo electronic structure method as currently used in quantum chemistry and condensed matter physics and to show them how to use the Cambridge CASINO QMC program for serious scientific research. The participants spent around 4-5 hours each morning listening to lectures from Mike Towler and Neil Drummond on the quantum Monte Carlo method. This was followed by practical examples classes with the CASINO software, and a programme of healthy recreational activities such as mountain walking and cave exploration.

This was the first test of the Apuan Alps Centre for Physics following its recent 18-month closure for refurbishment. Everyone enjoyed the lack of crumbling plaster, the pretty lights, and considerably-more-than-two new electricity sockets in the new, dust-free church and lecture hall, along with the firepit and the new terraces and seating in the garden. Despite the rain (the main reason we did fewer strenuous activities than usual..) the water consistently failed to find its way through the roof as it had throughout the previous decade. The new TTI_wifi computer network (we now have a genuine huge network/server cabinet with proper flashing lights!) performed very well, and the only reason it was occasionally a bit slow was my wife and children were watching high-definition Amazon movies on their private bandwidth-hogging 'TTI_wife' network. Sadly, because it was, uh.., very hot we were unable to test the fantastic new central heating system (let's have a Winter School!) but the new solar panels on the roof provided a constant supply of free hot water.

Away from their scientific activities, the participants mounted successful expeditions to Monte Procinto, the Cave of Cascaltendine, the Cave That Screams, the beautiful city of Lucca, and the open-air swimming pool at Barga, and an unsuccessful one to Monte Matanna (where they ended up partly scaling a completely different peak over a mile away, for some reason). Further progress was made in excavations to find the secret tunnel and the missing fortress (without actually finding either, but watch this space, I promise). These trips were followed by nice dinners at Il Vecchio Mulino, Alto Matanna, Da Sandra, Eremo di Calomini, Al Laghetto and the old restaurant at Vallico Sotto, specially opened yet again for the "Vallico Sotto against the World" football match.

At this point, I normally write a report about the football game, but the full horror of that evening has yet to leave me, so I'm just not going to. Suffice it to say that our thrusting young lads suffered a bigger pasting than Bon Accord in 1885 (the heaviest defeat in professional football in the whole of recorded history). This happened even though one of Vallico Sotto's principal strikers was only ten years old. Just embarrassing, quite frankly.

To check which students have been paying most attention during the lectures and practical classes, we traditionally hold a tough examination on the final day. The highest mark and the award of the prestigious title of "TTI QMC Summer School Champion 2016", went - for the first time - to two people with equally high scores. These were Professor Davide Ceresoli of CNR-ISTM, Milano - who won an ancient book entitled "Among Italian Peasants" - and first year Ph.D. student Ryan Hunt from Lancaster University - who won a 70-million year old sea creature (and who vehemently denies that he stole the answers from supervisor Neil Drummond's desk before leaving England).

Continuing a long tradition of oratorical brilliance from former champions stretching back many years - we heard speeches of breathtaking beauty and wit from the victors. Both of the words used by Prof. Ceresoli were very elegantly expressed, and Mr. Ryan's speech from the house of Lancaster could have been given by Henry V of England ("..and gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that did this exam with us upon [checks calendar] Saint Martha's day. Even the ones that only got 8 out of 10.").

Professor Marilu Chiofalo - who gracefully decided to give the others a chance by not attending the exam - was awarded a packet of biscuits in her absence as obviously she would have won.


- Poster
- Original announcement
- Summer school programme document

- Chandler Bennett
- Alex Hoffman
- Vamshi Katukuri
- Cody_Melton
- Theo Pavloudis
- Guido Roma
- Mike Towler

- Theo Pavloudis 1 (mp4)
- Theo Pavloudis 2 (mp4)
- Theo Pavloudis 3 (mp4)


Mike Towler and Neil Drummond assisted by Sam Azadi

Staff and hangers-on

Samantha Keil, Saska Towler, Jamie Towler, Rory St. John, Lucy St. John, Mia Krikler, Natalie, Olly

Sergey Artyukhin, Chandler Bennett, Fausto Cargnoni, Marco Cazzaniga, Davide Ceresoli, Guo-Liang Chai, Alvaro Charlet, Marilu Chiofalo, Roberto Di Remigio, Matej Ditte, Alexander Edstrom, Alexander Hofmann, Ryan Hunt, Vamshi Katukuri, Ekaterina Klyushina, Andrey Lugovskoy, Cody Melton, Mahmoud Mirzaei, Verena Neufeld, Wycliffe Onkeo, Theo Pavloudis, Guido Roma, Lalit Kumar Saini, Charles Scott, Rajeshkumar O. Sharma, Shiv Upadhyay

Lectures presented : slides (password required)

Mike Towler (mdt26 at

1. "Quantum Monte Carlo : a practical solution to the correlation problem in electronic structure calculations" [PDF]
2. "The CASINO program : a basic introduction to functionality and input/output" [PDF]
3. "The CASINO program: distribution, setup, and compilation" [PDF]
4. "Probability and statistics in quantum Monte Carlo: the fascinating details" [PDF]
5. "Useful calculations for big, complicated systems: quantum Monte Carlo at the research frontier" [PDF]
6. "Three QMC scaling problems: many atoms, many protons, many processors" [PDF]
7. "Interfaces between CASINO and external programs" [link]
8. "Pseudopotentials for quantum Monte Carlo: a necessary evil" [PDF]
9. "Forces and dynamics. Expectation values other than the energy" [PDF]

Neil Drummond (n.drummond at

10. "Optimization of many-electron wave functions" [PDF]
11. "Theory and practice of Diffusion quantum Monte Carlo" [PDF]
12. "Wave functions beyond Slater-Jastrow" [PDF]
13. "Quantum Monte Carlo studies of condensed matter" [PDF]
14. "Quantum Monte Carlo study of the two-dimensional homogeneous electron gas" [PDF]

Practical worksheets and input files

- "QMC practical classes" [gzipped tar file] - NOT YET AVAILABLE

QMC Exam

- "Exam" [PDF]
- "Answers" [PDF]

Student talks

- Cody Melton - "Quantum Monte Carlo method for heavy atomic and molecular systems with spin-orbit interactions" [PDF]


  • "It was really a great week with a lot of learning and other fun!"

  • "For all this, I wish to congratulate with you. The setting of this physics school is a representation of what physics is and phycisists are: problem solvers, curious, eclectic, open-minded, creative, individual while community-oriented creatures."

  • "Thank you once again for the fantastic summer school."

  • "Now that things are calmed down at home and I have 5 minutes, I thought I'd drop you a line to express my thanks for the last week of activities, teaching, fun and games and of course your wonderful hosting. I think it's safe to say that nobody at the school had experienced anything like that. Never before have I felt that any scientific event (conference/school/meeting/otherwise) had netted me so much gain in so little time. Your model of a summer school is something to be proud of, and I cannot thank you enough for giving me the chance to benefit from it so heavily. I hope to see you again at TTI, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you that any further events will have my full endorsement (I intend to tell at least a few friends about them ad nauseam)."

  • "Thank you very much for the wonderful Summer School for the systemic introduction of QMC. In addition, there are so many interesting excursions and caving on Alps etc., which I think most of us will not do that without the fatastic Summer School."

  • "I just wanted to express how much I appreciated the school. It was nice to hear from some of the experts in the field, and I definitely picked up a few tricks that I was unaware of. The fact that you and your family not only open up your home, but go out of your way to make sure everyone is accommodated and experiences the beauty of Tuscan is truly appreciated. It is a one of a kind experience. I cannot thank you enough. Hopefully, I can make it out again to one of the conferences and some more unforgettable experiences to the book."

  • "I have to thank you for this great school! I have no words to express properly how I feel, neither in italian, nor in english."

  • "No amount of THANK YOU will be enough to say of what you have done for me. You sponsored my strip to the Summer School. As if that is not enough, you paid for my meals - something that sometimes made me uncomfortable. However, I just want to say thank you Mike. The list is endless... Nonetheless, I am a happy recipient of your generosity. Sometimes, I feel like this is a dream, but again this is reality. You are a man of big heart, who made a guy from a poor village in [COUNTRY CENSORED] to come to Italy. By the way I am first in the village to board a plane. I have learned a lot in a way I can't imagine. Thank you for hosting us. Thanks for teaching us the Quantum Monte Carlo Method...(I am getting emotional...)"

  • "Hope to visit you again in Vallico, everything was fantastic!"

  • "I just came back home after a week of vacation following the Summer School and found some time to sit in front of the laptop."

    "I would like to thank you again for allowing me to attend the School. It was the most exciting educational and recreational experience of my life. You, your family, Sam and Neil were all so welcoming and hospitable, helping with everything, letting us into your home and allowing us to walk around like science zombies in the morning and during lecture breaks, sipping coffee and munching on anything we could find in the kitchen, the fridge and the shelves next to it. Everything was great, from the place, the food and the activities, to the rigorous QMC lectures and people from all over the world I had the chance to meet. I spent some days showing photos to family and friends and my supervisor, leaving them all amazed with the Institute, Vallico Sotto and the Apuan Alps landscape in general, and the afternoon walks and hikes. I wish I was not feeling sick and could put my gloves to use and play at the football match, maybe conceding less than 40 goals and avoiding the most embarrassing defeat ever. Even though I felt I did not deserve it for missing the game, I especially appreciated Thursday night's 1977 Porto and drunken cheese session."

    "I came to the School knowing almost nothing about QMC and, although I still have to study a lot, I left feeling confident enough to start my own test runs and hopefully use CASINO for the cases that I will be investigating in the months to come. I am now looking for ways to adapt my models so that I can exploit CASINO and take advantage of what QMC has to offer. I must say that you have done a great job with the code. The interface and documentation alone are amazing compared to what I have come across so far, on par with proprietary software that we had to pay money for."

    "You are a good man and have a wonderful family. I wish the best for Samantha, Saska, Jamie, Rory, Lucy and you and I am looking forward to meeting you again in the future."

    "Thank you so much!"

  • "Thanks very much indeed for hosting yet another superb summer school at TTI and for arranging meals, providing a taxi service, etc, etc. I very much enjoyed my stay there. Ryan is of course delighted with his shiny new ammonite. They considered confiscating it at Security, but relented and confiscated the present he had got for his girlfriend instead." [BASTARDS! - MDT]

Davide Ceresoli - Summer School Champion 2016
He's even dressed for it..

Ryan Hunt - Summer School Champion 2016

Thanks for coming!