The most challenging scenario for Kohn-Sham density-functional theory, that is, when the electrons move relatively slowly trying to avoid each other as much as possible because of their repulsion (strong-interaction limit), is reformulated here as an optimal transport (or mass transportation theory) problem, a well-established field of mathematics and economics. In practice, we show that to solve the problem of finding the minimum possible internal repulsion energy for N electrons in a given density ρ(r) is equivalent to find the optimal way of transporting N-1 times the density ρ into itself, with the cost function given by the Coulomb repulsion. We use this link to set the strong-interaction limit of density-functional theory on firm ground and to discuss the potential practical aspects of this reformulation. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Buttazzo, G., De Pascale, L., & Gori Giorgi, P. (2012). Optimal-transport formulation of electronic density-functional theory. Physical Review A, 85, 062502. . https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.85.062502