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Coupled Cluster Calculations


The NWChem coupled cluster energy module is primarily the work of Alistair Rendell and Rika Kobayashi12, with contributions from Bert de Jong, David Bernholdt and Edoardo Aprà3.

The coupled cluster code can perform calculations with full iterative treatment of single and double excitations and non-iterative inclusion of triple excitation effects. It is presently limited to closed-shell (RHF) references.

Note that symmetry is not used within most of the CCSD(T) code. This can have a profound impact on performance since the speed-up from symmetry is roughly the square of the number of irreducible representations. In the absence of symmetry, the performance of this code is competitive with other programs.

The operation of the coupled cluster code is controlled by the input block

  [MAXITER <integer maxiter default 20>]
  [THRESH  <real thresh default 1e-6>]
  [TOL2E <real tol2e default min(1e-12 , 0.01**`thresh`*`)>]
  [DIISBAS  <integer diisbas default 5>]
  [FREEZE [[core] (atomic || <integer nfzc default 0>)] \
          [virtual <integer nfzv default 0>]]
  [IPRT  <integer IPRT default 0>]
  [PRINT ...]
  [NOPRINT ...]

Note that the keyword CCSD is used for the input block regardless of the actual level of theory desired (specified with the TASK directive). The following directives are recognized within the CCSD group.

MAXITER – Maximum number of iterations

The maximum number of iterations is set to 20 by default. This should be quite enough for most calculations, although particularly troublesome cases may require more.

 MAXITER  <integer maxiter default 20>

THRESH – Convergence threshold

Controls the convergence threshold for the iterative part of the calculation. Both the RMS error in the amplitudes and the change in energy must be less than thresh.

 THRESH  <real thresh default 1e-6>

TOL2E – integral screening threshold

 TOL2E <real tol2e default min(1e-12, 0.01*thresh)>

The variable tol2e is used in determining the integral screening threshold for the evaluation of the energy and related quantities.

CAUTION! At the present time, the tol2e parameter only affects the three- and four-virtual contributions, and the triples, all of which are done “on the fly”. The transformations used for the other parts of the code currently have a hard-wired threshold of 10-12. The default for tol2e is set to match this, and since user input can only make the threshold smaller, setting this parameter can only make calculations take longer.

DIISBAS – DIIS subspace dimension

Specifies the maximum size of the subspace used in DIIS convergence acceleration. Note that DIIS requires the amplitudes and errors be stored for each iteration in the subspace. Obviously this can significantly increase memory requirements, and could force the user to reduce DIISBAS for large calculations.

Measures to alleviate this problem, including more compact storage of the quantities involved, and the possibility of disk storage are being considered, but have not yet been implemented.

 DIISBAS  <integer diisbas default 5>

FREEZE – Freezing orbitals

  [FREEZE [[core] (atomic || <integer nfzc default 0>)] \
          [virtual <integer nfzv default 0>]]

This directive is identical to that used in the MP2 module.

NODISK – On-the-fly computation of integrals

The CCSD modules by default computes once and stores on disk the integrals. To avoid this kind of I/O operations, specify the keyword NODISK

IPRT – Debug printing

This directive controls the level of output from the code, mostly to facilitate debugging and the like. The larger the value, the more output printed. From looking at the source code, the interesting values seem to be IPRT > 5, 10, and 50.

 IPRT  <integer IPRT default 0>

The coupled cluster module supports the standard NWChem print control keywords, although very little in the code is actually hooked into this mechanism yet.

Item Print Level Description
“reference” high Wavefunction information
“guess pair energies” debug MP2 pair energies
“byproduct energies” default Intermediate energies
“term debugging switches” debug Switches for individual terms

Methods (Tasks) Recognized

Currently available methods are

  • CCSD - Full iterative inclusion of single and double excitations
  • CCSD+T(CCSD) - The fourth order triples contribution computed with converged singles and doubles amplitudes
  • CCSD(T) - The linearized triples approximation due to Raghavachari.

The calculation is invoked using the TASK directive, so to perform a CCSD+T(CCSD) calculation, for example, the input file should include the directive


Lower-level results which come as by-products (such as MP3/MP4) of the requested calculation are generally also printed in the output file and stored on the run-time database, but the method specified in the TASK directive is considered the primary result.

Debugging and Development Aids

The information in this section is intended for use by experts (both with the methodology and with the code), primarily for debugging and development work. Messing with stuff in listed in this section will probably make your calculation quantitatively wrong! Consider yourself warned!

Switching On and Off Terms

The /DEBUG/ common block contains a number of arrays which control the calculation of particular terms in the program. These are 15-element integer arrays (although from the code only a few elements actually effect anything) which can be set from the input deck. See the code for details of how the arrays are interpreted.

Printing of this data at run-time is controlled by the “term debugging switches” print option. The values are checked against the defaults at run-time and a warning is printed to draw attention to the fact that the calculation does not correspond precisely to the requested method.

DOA  <integer array default 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2>
DOB  <integer array default 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2>
DOG  <integer array default 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1>
DOH  <integer array default 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1>
DOJK <integer array default 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2>
DOS  <integer array default 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1>
DOD  <integer array default 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1>

Alternative Implementations of Triples

There are four customized versions of the CCSD(T) triples driver that may improve performance on some architectures. These are not the default implementation and are not tested regularly. The burden is on the user to evaluate their correctness in comparison to the default triples driver. The triples driver only affects how the (T) energy contribution is evaluated; the CCSD code is the same in all cases.

All of the non-standard triples drivers are activated using RTDB set directives, which are specified outside of the CCSD input block.


The nonblocking variant of the triples driver uses nonblocking Global Arrays get operations. It may improve communication overlap at large node code, provided that nonblocking communication makes asynchronous progress.

 set ccsd:use_trpdrv_nb T


As of November 2016, the development version of semidirect CCSD(T) uses OpenMP extensively. The OpenMP variant of the triples driver includes OpenMP threaded kernels and attempts to run multiple DGEMM calls simultaneously. The CCSD iteration uses OpenMP threading in kernels with a relatively small number of parallel regions. It also uses nonblocking Global Arrays get operations.

set ccsd:use_ccsd_omp T
set ccsd:use_trpdrv_omp T

If one runs with only the (T) portion of the code using threads, the CCSD code will run slower when using fewer cores. Thus, it may be prudent to run the CCSD portion with a larger number of processes and then run a second job for (T) that restarts the computation on a smaller number of processes and a larger number of threads.

Preliminary evaluation of this implementation indicates that a small number of threads (2 to 4) is optimal, with the assumption that single-threaded execution can utilize all of the cores. It is expected that nodes with a large number of cores may not be able to support process-only parallelism due to memory-capacity constraints, in which case the OpenMP implementation allows the user to make use of more cores than otherwise possible.

Because of the extensive refactoring of the code to maximize OpenMP performance and the intrinsic non-associativity of floating-point arithmetic, the OpenMP variant may not produce the exact same answer as the default one. If there is concern about the numerical fidelity of results, a more stringent numerical threshold for the CCSD equations may be required.


The offload variant of the triples driver supports Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors (Knights Corner family), in addition to the aforementioned OpenMP and nonblocking features. This implementation has not been tested extensively and a recommendation concerning the right number of processes and threads is not available.

 set ccsd:use_trpdrv_offload T


  1. Rendell, A.P., Lee, T.J., Komornicki, A., and Wilson, S. (1992) “Evaluation of the contribution from triply excited intermediates to the fourth-order perturbation theory energy on Intel distributed memory supercomputers”, Theor. Chem. Acc., 84, 271-287, doi: 10.1007/BF01113267 

  2. Kobayashi, R. and Rendell, A.P. (1997) “A direct coupled cluster algorithm for massively parallel computers”, Chem. Phys. Lett., 265, 1-11, doi: 10.1016/S0009-2614(96)01387-5 

  3. Aprà, E., Harrison, R.J., de Jong, W.A., Rendell, A.P., Tipparaju, V. and Xantheas, S.S. (2009) “Liquid Water: Obtaining the Right Answer for the Right Reasons”, Proc. SC‘09, doi: 10.1145/1654059.1654127