An improved fast multipole method for electrostatic potential calculations in a class of coarse-grained molecular simulations

Mohammad Poursina, Kurt S. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel algorithm to approximate the long-range electrostatic potential field in the Cartesian coordinates applicable to 3. D coarse-grained simulations of biopolymers. In such models, coarse-grained clusters are formed via treating groups of atoms as rigid and/or flexible bodies connected together via kinematic joints. Therefore, multibody dynamic techniques are used to form and solve the equations of motion of such coarse-grained systems. In this article, the approximations for the potential fields due to the interaction between a highly negatively/positively charged pseudo-atom and charged particles, as well as the interaction between clusters of charged particles, are presented. These approximations are expressed in terms of physical and geometrical properties of the bodies such as the entire charge, the location of the center of charge, and the pseudo-inertia tensor about the center of charge of the clusters. Further, a novel substructuring scheme is introduced to implement the presented far-field potential evaluations in a binary tree framework as opposed to the existing quadtree and octree strategies of implementing fast multipole method. Using the presented Lagrangian grids, the electrostatic potential is recursively calculated via sweeping two passes: assembly and disassembly. In the assembly pass, adjacent charged bodies are combined together to form new clusters. Then, the potential field of each cluster due to its interaction with faraway resulting clusters is recursively calculated in the disassembly pass. The method is highly compatible with multibody dynamic schemes to model coarse-grained biopolymers. Since the proposed method takes advantage of constant physical and geometrical properties of rigid clusters, improvement in the overall computational cost is observed comparing to the tradition application of fast multipole method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-633
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Coarse-graining
  • Electrostatic potential field
  • Far-field interactions
  • Fast multipole method
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Multibody dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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