Ernest R. Davidson


Born October 12, 1936 in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA.

Professor of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
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Sloan Fellow (1967). Laureate, International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science (1971). Guggenheim Fellow (1974). Fellow, American Physical Society (1976). Member, International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science (1981). Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1985). Fellow, National Academy of Science (1987). ACS Award for Computers in Chemistry (1992). Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996). Honorary Professor, Northwest University, Xi'an, China (1994). Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize in Theoretical Chemistry (1997). Honorary Doctorate of Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (1998). Distinguished Scholar Award, Indiana Academy of Science (1998). Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, Uppsala University (2000). ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry (2000). National Medal of Science (2001). S. F. Boys-A Rahman Lectureship, Royal Society of Chemistry (2002)

Author of:

Over 400 publications, including the book, Reduced Density Matrices in Quantum Chemistry, Academic Press, 1976. An autobiography was published as "The right answer for the right answer" in Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, 2019, 70, 1-21.

Important Contributions:

Ab initio calculations of the electronic and geometric structure of molecules has become a technique of immense practical use to chemists. Professor Davidson has been responsible for a long series of conceptual and algorithmic developments which helped found this field. Of particular practical importance are the following computational developments:
  • an efficient method for computing integrals over Cartesian Gaussian basis functions.
  • the iterative natural orbital method which has been used world-wide for high-accuracy calculations.
  • the Davidson method for finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors of large matrices which is now used in almost every ab initio configuration program in the world
  • the "Davidson correction" for estimating the effects of higher excitations on the computed energy.
Of even greater importance, however, has been his impact on the conceptual development of this field. For example, Professor Davidson has pioneered developments for the accurate description of spin and momentum distributions, and the accurate description of diradicals. He also has contributed to the understanding of reduced density matrices.