We present a detailed description and comparison of algorithms for performing ab-initio quantum-mechanical calculations using pseudopotentials and a plane-wave basis set. We will discuss: (a) partial occupancies within the framework of the linear tetrahedron method and the finite temperature density-functional theory, (b) iterative methods for the diagonalization of the Kohn-Sham Hamiltonian and a discussion of an efficient iterative method based on the ideas of Pulay's residual minimization, which is close to an order Natoms2 scaling even for relatively large systems, (c) efficient Broyden-like and Pulay-like mixing methods for the charge density including a new special ‘preconditioning’ optimized for a plane-wave basis set, (d) conjugate gradient methods for minimizing the electronic free energy with respect to all degrees of freedom simultaneously. We have implemented these algorithms within a powerful package called VAMP (Vienna ab-initio molecular-dynamics package). The program and the techniques have been used successfully for a large number of different systems (liquid and amorphous semiconductors, liquid simple and transition metals, metallic and semi-conducting surfaces, phonons in simple metals, transition metals and semiconductors) and turned out to be very reliable.

This paper was originally published in Computational Materials Science 6, 1 (1996) 15–50.

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