Sun 4th August - Sun 11th August 2013
The Apuan Alps Centre for Physics @ TTI
Vallico Sotto, Tuscany, Italy

Summer school programme

The eighth international summer school in the series "Quantum Monte Carlo and the CASINO program" will take place during August 2013 at the TTI monastery in the Tuscan Apuan Alps in Italy, organized and hosted by members and associates 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 quantum chemists or theoretical physicists who have no previous experience with this technique; people at any stage of their career who are interested are welcome to take part.

The monastery - incorporating the Apuan Alps Centre for Physics - is a unique venue where the magnificent location and community spirit have inspired a long series of memorable schools and workshops since it first opened its doors almost ten years ago. It is a delightful 15th 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 the relevant presentation and computer technology, and all accommodation is on-site or in other houses in the village. As with all events at the Institute, formal lectures are restricted to the mornings, and participants are encouraged to spend much of the rest of the day thinking, contemplating, and discussing the issues at hand. Practical computer exercises after lunch will be followed by a programme of recreational activities such as mountain walks, cave trips, and city visits organized for the latter half of most afternoons; the days generally conclude with tasty evening meals in local family restaurants.

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 unique capability of yielding highly accurate results whilst also exhibiting a very favourable scaling of computational cost with system size, and essentially perfect parallel scaling up to (at least) hundreds of thousands of computer cores. Over the last twenty 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, as is an ability to operate computers through a Linux command line environment.

Quantum Monte Carlo and the scaling behaviour of CASINO on the fastest computers in the world were the subject of a recent 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 who need to fly to Italy would normally book a flight to Pisa airport (or possibly Florence) from where onward transportation will be arranged. Other airports such as Milano/Roma are possible if you don't mind a longer train trip. Details of previous schools - including photographs and comments from the participants - are available under the Events List links on the TTI web site.

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

List of participants:

Yasmine Al-Hamdani (University College London, U.K.)
Tadeusz Andruniów (Politechnika Wroclawska, Poland)
Can Ataca (MIT, U.S.A.)
Samaneh Ataei (University of Tehran, Iran)
Salvatore Cardamone (University of Manchester, U.K.)
Ambesh Dixit (Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, India)
Guillaume Ferlat (University of Paris, France)
Laura Giacopetti (University of Cagliari, Italy)
Yury Gladush (Institute for Spectroscopy RAS, Troitsk, Russia)
Cecilia Goyenola (University of Linköping, Sweden)
Blazej Jaworowski (Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland)
Manuel Perez Jigato (Centre de Recherche Gabriel Lippmann, Luxembourg)
Peter Korir (University of Eldoret, Kenya)
Matthew Malcomson (University of Lancaster, U.K.)
Jana Mathauserová (Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic)
Marcos Menendez (University of Oviedo, Spain)
Elisabeth Morelle (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Elaheh Mostaani (University of Lancaster, U.K.)
Minh Tam Nguyen (KU Leuven, Belgium)
Antonio Noto (University of Palermo, Italy)
Eduardo Menendez Proupin (University of Chile, Santiago, Chile)
Samuel Ridgway (University of St. Andrews, U.K.)
Kayahan Saritas (MIT, U.S.A.)
Pedro Silva (Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Porto, Portugal)
Kyrylo Snizhko (University of Lancaster, U.K.)
Ludmila Szulakowska (Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland)

Emails from students attending previous schools in this series

"I am writing to thank you again for organising the Summer School. I learned a lot and I had an amazing time. Everything we did was amazing, from climbing to caving, and from football to dinners. But of all the things the most valuable to me was the people I met, the discussions we had and the science we learned. I think you are doing something amazing in TTI, and I hope you keep it going for a long time! I hope many generations of young students can continue benefiting from it! Thank you very much again!"

"I am writing to tank you again because of the amazing school which was the best one I have ever had.

"I'm meanwhile back in [my city] with many many nice memories on the past week. It was a pleasure to learn about QMC in such a magnificent environment and I really appreciate your way of approaching science. Especially how you manage to have a life next to science. I have not only learned about QMC, but valuable lessons for my personal development as well.

"I would like to thank you for facilitating a wonderful summer school. I learnt a tremendous amount during the week. It was an invaluable experience to meet other academics from around the world. The excursions were most enjoyable. I count myself privileged to have experienced a bit of the Tuscan way of life and to have been among the majestic beauty of the alps. All in all, the week has broadened my perspective and experience of life and physics."

"I am writing you to thank you again for this really wonderful Summer School, where I really learned so much about QMC. CASINO is already running on our cluster and the performance is really impressive. ... Yesterday I gave the talk about the Summer School in our internal group seminar, and it was a great success. Most of the people in my group think that they can use it for their projects to get better results and get wrong trends obtained by DFT in the correct order by using QMC simulations. ... Thanks again for this great experience, which gave me a lot of new motivation for my projects.

"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."