Regular Article - Atomic Physics
Dialogue on analytical and ab initio methods in attoscience
Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, BT7 1NN, Belfast, UK
2 Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy, Max-Born-Straße 2A, 12489, Berlin, Germany
3 Department of Physics, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, SW7 2AZ, London, UK
4 CNRS, PASTEUR, Département de chimie, Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL University, Sorbonne Université, 75005, Paris, France
5 Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques, The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, 08860, Castelldefels (Barcelona), Spain
6 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT, London, UK
Accepted: 18 June 2021
Published online: 20 July 2021
The perceived dichotomy between analytical and ab initio approaches to theory in attosecond science is often seen as a source of tension and misconceptions. This Topical Review compiles the discussions held during a round-table panel at the ‘Quantum Battles in Attoscience’ cecam virtual workshop, to explore the sources of tension and attempt to dispel them. We survey the main theoretical tools of attoscience—covering both analytical and numerical methods—and we examine common misconceptions, including the relationship between ab initio approaches and the broader numerical methods, as well as the role of numerical methods in ‘analytical’ techniques. We also evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of analytical as well as numerical and ab initio methods, together with their role in scientific discovery, told through the case studies of two representative attosecond processes: non-sequential double ionisation and resonant high-harmonic generation. We present the discussion in the form of a dialogue between two hypothetical theoreticians, a numericist and an analytician, who introduce and challenge the broader opinions expressed in the attoscience community.
© The Author(s) 2021
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