A Hierarchical Algorithm for Fast Debye Summation with Applications to Small Angle Scattering

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Debye summation, which involves the summation of sinc functions of distances between all pair of atoms in three dimensional space, arises in computations performed in crystallography, small/wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) and small angle neutron scattering (SANS). Direct evaluation of Debye summation has quadratic complexity, which results in computational bottleneck when determining crystal properties, or running structure refinement protocols that involve SAXS or SANS, even for moderately sized molecules. We present a fast approximation algorithm that efficiently computes the summation to any prescribed accuracy epsilon in linear time. The algorithm is similar to the fast multipole method (FMM), and is based on a hierarchical spatial decomposition of the molecule coupled with local harmonic expansions and translation of these expansions. An even more efficient implementation is possible when the scattering profile is all that is required, as in small angle scattering reconstruction (SAS) of macromolecules. We examine the relationship of the proposed algorithm to existing approximate methods for profile computations, and provide detailed description of the algorithm, including error bounds and algorithms for stable computation of the translation operators. Our theoretical and computational results show orders of magnitude improvement in computation complexity over existing methods, while maintaining prescribed accuracy.