Berni J. Alder CECAM Prize

1999 – Giovanni Ciccotti

Giovanni Ciccotti has made pioneering contributions to molecular dynamics: among other methods, we cite the non-equilibrium subtraction technique to study transport phenomena, the method of holonomic constraints to deal with rigid molecular models in cartesian coordinates, routinely used world-wide and recently extended to study rare events with applications to chemical reactions in liquids. Besides these methodological contributions, Giovanni Ciccotti has applied molecular dynamics to a very broad range of physical and chemical and, recently, biological problems. He highly deserves recognition by the computational science community for his deep and clear thinking. He has played a key role of leadership through his timely summer schools and books and has helped shaping the outlook and work of a whole generation of scientists in the field of computer simulation.

Berni Alder added the following comment at the Prize ceremony, during the 30th anniversary conference :

“I am profoundly touched to have a prize named after me and extremely pleased to be able to present it to such an outstanding contributor to the field. As is natural, we have in fact at times been vigourous rivals. I have found Giovanni always a worthy sparring partner, intellectually totally honest, if somewhat reluctant to admit the limitations of his approach. One instance of this is the subtraction method to calculate transport coefficients as mentionned in the citation. We have developed an alternative method which is somewhat time-consuming to evaluate but stable at long times. Giovanni’s approach is fast but not practical at long times because the subtraction becomes exponentially large at long times. Such intellectual sparring has led to a deep respect on my part to Giovanni and I am glad to say a delightful friendship over many years. I distinguish between two kinds of people working in this field. There are originators and consumers of algorithms. The best of these are those who consume their own algorithms to crack major problems. Giovanni is one of those and example of that is the constraint algorithm he developed to deal with more realistic models of molecules – polymers not spheres. The measure of his success is that it lead to an entire industry of consumers. “