Development of a pure diffusion quantum Monte Carlo method using a full generalized Feynman-Kac formula. I. Formalism
This paper presents systematic developments in the previously initiated line of research concerning a quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) method based on the use of a pure diffusion process corresponding to some reference function and a generalized Feynman-Kac path integral formalism. Not only mean values of quantum observables, but also response properties are expressed using suitable path integrals involving the diffusion measure of the reference diffusion process. Moreover, by relying on the ergodic character of this process, path integrals may be evaluated as time-averages along any sample trajectory of the process. This property is of crucial importance for the computer implementation of the method. As concerns the treatment of many-fermion systems, where the Pauli principle must be taken into account, we can use the fixed-node approximation, but we also discuss the potentially exact release-node procedure, whereby some adequate symmetry is imposed on the integrand (of the generalized Feynman-Kac formula), associated with a possibly refined choice of the reference function.