8.1.6. Coupling LAMMPS to other codes

LAMMPS is designed to support being coupled to other codes. For example, a quantum mechanics code might compute forces on a subset of atoms and pass those forces to LAMMPS. Or a continuum finite element (FE) simulation might use atom positions as boundary conditions on FE nodal points, compute a FE solution, and return interpolated forces on MD atoms.

LAMMPS can be coupled to other codes in at least 4 different ways. Each has advantages and disadvantages, which you will have to think about in the context of your application.

  1. Define a new fix or compute command that calls the other code. In this scenario, LAMMPS is the driver code. During timestepping, the fix or compute is invoked, and can make library calls to the other code, which has been linked to LAMMPS as a library. This is the way the VORONOI package, which computes Voronoi tesselations using the Voro++ library, is interfaced to LAMMPS. See the compute voronoi command for more details. Also see the Modify pages for information on how to add a new fix or compute to LAMMPS.

  1. Define a new LAMMPS command that calls the other code. This is conceptually similar to method (1), but in this case LAMMPS and the other code are on a more equal footing. Note that now the other code is not called during the timestepping of a LAMMPS run, but between runs. The LAMMPS input script can be used to alternate LAMMPS runs with calls to the other code, invoked via the new command. The run command facilitates this with its every option, which makes it easy to run a few steps, invoke the command, run a few steps, invoke the command, etc.

    In this scenario, the other code can be called as a library, as in 1., or it could be a stand-alone code, invoked by a system() call made by the command (assuming your parallel machine allows one or more processors to start up another program). In the latter case the stand-alone code could communicate with LAMMPS through files that the command writes and reads.

    See the Modify command page for information on how to add a new command to LAMMPS.

  1. Use LAMMPS as a library called by another code. In this case, the other code is the driver and calls LAMMPS as needed. Alternately, a wrapper code could link and call both LAMMPS and another code as libraries. Again, the run command has options that allow it to be invoked with minimal overhead (no setup or clean-up) if you wish to do multiple short runs, driven by another program. Details about using the library interface are given in the library API documentation.

  1. Couple LAMMPS with another code in a client/server fashion, using the MDI Library developed by the Molecular Sciences Software Institute (MolSSI) to run LAMMPS as either an MDI driver (client) or an MDI engine (server). The MDI driver issues commands to the MDI server to exchange data between them. See the Using LAMMPS with the MDI library for code coupling page for more information about how LAMMPS can operate in either of these modes.