1
HartreeFock Approximation
We have a system of
N
interacting fermions with a Hamiltonian
H
=
N
i
=1
h
(
i
) +
N
i<j
V
int
(
i, j
)
.
(1)
Here,
h
(
i
) is the “singleparticle Hamiltonian” for the particle
i
and
V
int
(
i, j
)
is the part of the Hamiltonian describing the interaction between particles
i
and
j
. By the “singleparticle Hamiltonian” we mean the terms that would
be present if there were only one fermion in the system. For the case of
N
electrons in an atom with proton number
Z
at the nucleus, these terms would
be
h
(
i
)
=
p
2
i
2
m

Ze
2
r
i
,
V
int
(
i, j
)
=
e
2

r
i

r
j

.
Again we ignored the rest of the terms like spinorbit interaction which would
introduce spindependent terms into the Hamiltonian. Note that in Eq. (1),
the interaction part is summed over each particle pair only once. As a result,
there are
N
2
=
N
(
N

1)
2
terms in the last sum.
Such problems cannot be solved exactly in general (there are a few unin
teresting exceptions). As a result, we need a general approximation procedure
for solving such manybody equations. Obviously, what we want to calcu
late is important in choosing the approximation procedure.
Hence, there
are various methods developed to cope with different aspects of such kind
of problems. The very first step should be obtaining a “feel” for the energy
levels for those problems. That certainly means that we don’t need accurate
numerical values.
Independent particle picture is this first step in visualizing the energy
levels of most of the manybody problems.
This is the language used in
describing the electronic states of atoms in Atomic Physics courses. When
we are saying that in Lithium, there are two electrons in the 1s orbital and
1
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one electron in the 2s orbital, we are using that language. However, we say, in
those atoms, the orbital wavefunctions and their energies are different than
those of the hydrogenic atoms.
Our purpose in here is to formalize those
kind of statements.
Therefore, the question we would like to answer is “What is the best
independentparticle approximation for an interacting system of fermions?”
And the answer can be provided by the variational theory. We should form
a manybody wavefunction of the atom as a Slater determinant using some
oneparticle states
ϕ
1
, . . . , ϕ
N
.
And, we should choose these oneparticle
states as the ones that minimize the expectation value of the Hamiltonian in
Eq. (1). This is the HartreeFock approximation.
2
Expectation Values
Let us suppose that we have
N
arbitrary oneparticle states
ϕ
1
, . . . , ϕ
N
. We
should choose them as an orthonormal set, since this will make the calculation
of expectation values easier. So, we have
ϕ
i

ϕ
j
=
δ
i,j
i, j
= 1
, . . . , N.
(2)
As a result, we have
N
2
equations giving us a restriction on the oneparticle
states.
(Some may notice that, there are only
N
(
N
+ 1)
/
2 equations in
Eq. (2), but the number of real quantities fixed to a certain value is
N
2
. So,
there are
N
2
real equations.)
We form the Slater determinant from these
N
states as
Ψ(1
,
2
, . . . , N
) =
1
√
N
!
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 Spring '11
 starg
 Approximation, Vint, Heff, eﬀective Hamiltonian, VCoul, VExch

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