The Lieb formulation of density-functional theory is briefly reviewed and its straightforward generalization to arbitrary electron-electron interaction strengths discussed, leading to the introduction of density-fixed and potential-fixed adiabatic connections. An iterative scheme for the calculation of the Lieb functionals under the appropriate constraints is outlined following the direct optimization approach of Wu and Yang [J. Chem. Phys.118, 2498 (2003)]. First- and second-order optimization schemes for the calculation of accurate adiabatic-connection integrands are investigated and compared; the latter is preferred both in terms of computational efficiency and accuracy. The scheme is applicable to systems of any number of electrons. However, to determine the accuracy that may be achieved, the present work focuses on two-electron systems for which a number of simplifications may be exploited. The procedure is applied to the helium isoelectronic series and the H2 molecule. The resulting adiabatic-connection curves yield the full configuration-interaction exchange-correlation energies extrapolated to the basis-set limit. The relationship between the Kohn–Sham and natural orbitals as functions of the electron-electron interaction strength is explored in detail for H2. The accuracy with which the exchange-correlation contributions to the modified local potential can be determined is discussed. The new accurate adiabatic-connection curves are then compared with some recently investigated approximate forms calculated using accurate full configuration-interaction input data. This study demonstrates that the adiabatic-connection integrand may be determined accurately and efficiently, providing important insights into the link between the Kohn–Sham and traditional quantum-chemical treatments of the exchange-correlation problem in electronic-structure theory.

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