**Data-Driven Many-Body Potential Energy Functions for Generic Molecules:
Linear Alkanes as a Proof-of-Concept Application**

EF Bull-Vulpe and M Riera and SL Bore and F Paesani, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL THEORY AND COMPUTATION (2022).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.2c00645

We present a generalization of the many-body energy (MB-nrg) theoretical/computational framework that enables the development of data-driven potential energy functions (PEFs) for generic covalently bonded molecules, with arbitrary quantum mechanical accuracy. The "nearsightedness of electronic matter " is exploited to define monomers as "natural building blocks " on the basis of their distinct chemical identity. The energy of generic molecules is then expressed as a sum of individual many-body energies of incrementally larger subsystems. The MB-nrg PEFs represent the low-order n-body energies, with n = 1-4, using permutationally invariant polynomials derived from electronic structure data carried out at an arbitrary quantum mechanical level of theory, while all higher-order n-body terms (n > 4) are represented by a classical many-body polarization term. As a proof-of-concept application of the general MB-nrg framework, we present MB-nrg PEFs for linear alkanes. The MB-nrg PEFs are shown to accurately reproduce reference energies, harmonic frequencies, and potential energy scans of alkanes, independently of their length. Since, by construction, the MB-nrg framework introduced here can be applied to generic covalently bonded molecules, we envision future computer simulations of complex molecular systems using data-driven MB-nrg PEFs, with arbitrary quantum mechanical accuracy.

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