1. Introduction

ESPResSo is a simulation package designed to perform Molecular Dynamics (MD) and Monte Carlo (MC) simulations. It is meant to be a universal tool for simulations of a variety of soft matter systems. It features a broad range of interaction potentials which opens up possibilities for performing simulations using models with different levels of coarse-graining. It also includes modern and efficient algorithms for treatment of Electrostatics (P3M, MMM-type algorithms, constant potential simulations, dielectric interfaces, …), hydrodynamic interactions (DPD, Lattice-Boltzmann), and magnetic interactions, only to name a few. It is designed to exploit the capabilities of parallel computational environments. The program is being continuously extended to keep the pace with current developments both in the algorithms and software.

The kernel of ESPResSo is written in C++ with computational efficiency in mind. Interaction between the user and the simulation engine is provided via a Python scripting interface. This enables setup of arbitrarily complex systems, with simulation parameters that can be modified at runtime.

1.1. Guiding principles

ESPResSo is a tool for performing computer simulation and this user guide describes how to use this tool. However, it should be borne in mind that being able to operate a tool is not sufficient to obtain physically meaningful results. It is always the responsibility of the user to understand the principles behind the model, simulation and analysis methods he or she is using.

It is expected that the users of ESPResSo and readers of this user guide have a thorough understanding of simulation methods and algorithms they are planning to use. They should have passed a basic course on molecular simulations or read one of the renown textbooks, e.g. [FS02]. It is not necessary to understand everything that is contained in ESPResSo, but it is inevitable to understand all methods that you want to use. Using the program as a black box without proper understanding of the background will most probably result in wasted user and computer time with no useful output.

To enable future extensions, the functionality of the program is kept as general as possible. It is modularized, so that extensions to some parts of the program (e.g. implementing a new potential) can be done by modifying or adding only a few files, leaving most of the code untouched.

Much emphasis is put on readability of the code. To cite a few examples, hard-coded C-style for loops are generally avoided in favor of modern C++ range-based for loops or STL accumulators and algorithms, and output parameters are often avoided by returning a std::tuple. In addition, vector algebra can be expressed in few lines of code thanks to the Utils::Vector class that provides overloads for elementary operations, the dot product, the cross product and operations with matrices.

Hand-in-hand with the extensibility and readability of the code comes the flexibility of the whole program. On the one hand, it is provided by the generalized functionality of its parts, avoiding highly specialized functions. An example can be the implementation of the Generic Lennard-Jones potential described in section Generic Lennard-Jones interaction where the user can change all available parameters. Where possible, default values are avoided, providing the user with the possibility of choice. ESPResSo cannot be aware whether your particles are representing atoms or billiard balls, so it cannot check if the chosen parameters make sense and it is the user’s responsibility to make sure they do. In fact, ESPResSo can be used to play billiard (see sample script samples/billiard.py)!

On the other hand, flexibility of ESPResSo stems from the employment of a scripting language at the steering level. Apart from the ability to modify the simulation and system parameters at runtime, many simple tasks which are not computationally critical can be implemented at this level, without even touching the C++-kernel. For example, simple problem-specific analysis routines can be implemented in this way and made to interact with the simulation core. Another example of the program’s flexibility is the possibility to integrate system setup, simulation and analysis in one single control script. ESPResSo provides commands to create particles and set up interactions between them. Capping of forces helps prevent system blow-up when initially some particles are placed on top of each other. Using the Python interface, one can simulate the randomly set-up system with capped forces, interactively check whether it is safe to remove the cap and switch on the full interactions and then perform the actual productive simulation.

1.2. Basic program structure

As already mentioned, ESPResSo consists of two components. The simulation engine is written in C++ for the sake of computational efficiency. The steering or control level is interfaced to the kernel via an interpreter of Python scripting languages.

The kernel performs all computationally demanding tasks. Before all, integration of Newton’s equations of motion, including calculation of energies and forces. It also takes care of internal organization of data, storing the data about particles, communication between different processors or cells of the cell-system. The kernel is modularized so that basic functions are accessed via a set of well-defined lean interfaces, hiding the details of the complex numerical algorithms.

The scripting interface (Python) is used to setup the system (particles, boundary conditions, interactions, …), control the simulation, run analysis, and store and load results. The user has at hand the full readability and functionality of the scripting language. For instance, it is possible to use the SciPy package for analysis and PyPlot for plotting. With a certain overhead in efficiency, it can also be used to reject/accept new configurations in combined MD/MC schemes. In principle, any parameter which is accessible from the scripting level can be changed at any moment of runtime. In this way methods like thermodynamic integration become readily accessible.

The focus of the user guide is documenting the scripting interface, its behavior and use in the simulation. It only describes certain technical details of implementation which are necessary for understanding how the script interface works. Technical documentation of the code and program structure is contained in the online wiki.

1.3. Basic python simulation script

In this section, a brief overview is given over the most important components of the Python interface. Their usage is illustrated by short examples, which can be put together to a demo script.


As usual, the Python script starts by importing the necessary modules. The ESPResSo interface is contained in the espressomd Python module, which needs to be imported, before anything related can be done.

import espressomd

This should be followed by further necessary imports of the example at hand:

from espressomd.interactions import HarmonicBond
from espressomd.electrostatics import P3M


Access to the simulation system is provided via the System class. As a first step, an instance of this class needs to be created.

system = espressomd.System(box_l=[10, 10, 10])

Note that only one instance of the System class can be created due to limitations in the simulation core. Properties of the System class are used to access the parameters concerning the simulation system such as box geometry, time step or cell-system:

print("The box dimensions are {}".format(system.box_l))
system.time_step = 0.01
system.cell_system.skin = 0.4


The particles in the simulation are accessed via system.part, an instance of the ParticleList class. Use the add method to create new particles:

part1 = system.part.add(pos=[1.0, 1.0, 1.0], type=0)
part2 = system.part.add(pos=[1.0, 1.0, 2.0], type=0)

The individual particles are represented by instances of ParticleHandle which, as demonstrated in the example above, can be stored as Python variables (part1 and part2). The properties of the particle are implemented as Python properties and can be accessed and/or modified using the respective ParticleHandle:

>>> print(part2.pos)
[1.0, 1.0, 2.0]
>>> part2.pos = [0.2, 2.0, 0.0]
>>> print(part2.pos)
[0.2, 2.0, 0.0]

It is also possible to loop over all particles:

for p in system.part:
    print(f"Particle pos {p.pos}, type {p.type}")

Internally, each particle is automatically assigned a unique numerical id by ESPResSo. Note that in principle it is possible to explicitly set this particle id (if not in use already) on particle creation. Using the id in square brackets, the respective particle can be accessed from the particle list:

>>> system.part.add(id=3, pos=[2.1, 1.2, 3.3], type=0)
>>> system.part[3].pos = [1.0, 1.0, 2.0]
>>> print(system.part[3])
[1.0, 1.0, 2.0]

For larger simulation setups, explicit handling of numerical ids can quickly become confusing and is thus error-prone. We therefore highly recommend using ParticleHandle instead wherever possible.

Properties of several particles can be accessed by using Python slices:

positions = system.part[:].pos


In ESPResSo, interactions between particles usually fall in three categories:

  • Non-bonded interactions are short-ranged interactions between all pairs of particles of specified types. An example is the Lennard-Jones interaction mimicking overlap repulsion and van-der-Waals attraction.

  • Bonded interactions act only between two specific particles. An example is the harmonic bond between adjacent particles in a polymer chain.

  • Long-range interactions act between all particles with specific properties in the entire system. An example is the Coulomb interaction.

Non-bonded interaction

Non-bonded interactions are represented as subclasses of NonBondedInteraction, e.g. LennardJonesInteraction. Instances of these classes for a given pair of particle types are accessed via the non_bonded_inter attribute of the System class. This sets up a Lennard-Jones interaction between all particles of type 0 with the given parameters:

system.non_bonded_inter[0, 0].lennard_jones.set_params(
    epsilon=1, sigma=1, cutoff=5.0, shift="auto")

Bonded interaction

Next, we add a pair of particles with a different type to later add a harmonic bond between them:

part1 = system.part.add(pos=[7.0, 7.0, 7.0], type=1)
part2 = system.part.add(pos=[7.0, 7.0, 8.0], type=1)

To set up a bonded interaction, first an instance of the appropriate class is created with the desired parameters:

harmonic = HarmonicBond(k=1.0, r_0=0.5)

Then, the bonded interaction is registered in the simulation core by adding the instance to bonded_inter:


Finally, the bond can be added to particles using the add_bond() method of ParticleHandle with the instance of the bond class and the instance of the partner particle:

part1.add_bond((harmonic, part2))


Now we demonstrate how to setup a pair of charged particles treated by the P3M electrostatics solver. We start by adding the particles:

cation = system.part.add(pos=[4.0, 1.0, 1.0], type=2, q=1.0)
anion = system.part.add(pos=[6.0, 1.0, 1.0], type=2, q=-1.0)

Long-range interactions and other methods that might be mutually exclusive are treated as so-called actors. They are used by first creating an instance of the desired actor:

p3m = P3M(accuracy=1e-3, prefactor=1.0)

and then adding it to the system:

print("Tuning p3m ...")


So far we just added particles and interactions, but did not propagate the system. This is done by the integrator. It uses by default the velocity Verlet algorithm and is already created by the system class. To perform an integration step, just execute:


Usually, the system is propagated for a number of steps in a loop alongside with some analysis. In this last snippet, the different energy contributions of the system are printed:

num_configs = 10
num_steps = 1000

for i in range(num_configs):
    energy = system.analysis.energy()
    print("System time: {}".format(system.time))
    print("Energy of the LJ interaction: {}".format(energy["non_bonded"]))
    print("Energy of the harmonic bond: {}".format(energy["bonded"]))
    print("Energy of the Coulomb interaction: {}".format(energy["coulomb"]))

1.4. Tutorials

There are a number of tutorials that introduce the use of ESPResSo for different physical systems. You can also find the tutorials and related scripts in the directory /doc/tutorials or online on GitHub. They are executed with the ipypresso script.

The following tutorials are available:

  • lennard_jones: Modelling of a single-component and a two-component Lennard-Jones liquid.

  • visualization: Using the online visualizers of ESPResSo.

  • charged_system: Modelling of ion condensation around a charged rod.

  • ferrofluid: Modelling a colloidal suspension of magnetic particles.

  • lattice_boltzmann: Simulations including hydrodynamic interactions using the lattice-Boltzmann method.

  • raspberry_electrophoresis: Extended objects in a lattice-Boltzmann fluid, raspberry particles.

  • active_matter: Modelling of self-propelling particles.

  • electrokinetics: Modelling electrokinetics together with hydrodynamic interactions.

  • constant_pH: Modelling the titration of a weak acid using the constant pH method

1.5. Sample scripts

Several scripts that can serve as usage examples can be found in the directory /samples, or in the git repository. They are executed with the pypresso script.

The following samples are available:

  • billiard.py

    ESPResSo 8Ball billiards game.

  • chamber_game.py

    Game based on Maxwell’s demon, a thought experiment used to teach statistical thermodynamics. The user has to scoop particles from a chamber and guide them to another chamber through a channel with the help of a snake controlled by a gamepad or the keyboard. The particle imbalance between chambers creates a pressure gradient that makes it harder to move particles to the chamber with an excess of particles.

  • constraints.py

    Confine a polymer between two slabs and check that it cannot escape them during the entire simulation.

  • dancing.py

    Stokesian Dynamics simulation of particle sedimentation. Reproduce the trajectory in Figure 5b from [DBB87].

  • diffusion_coefficient.py

    Compare the diffusion coefficient of a single thermalized particle obtained from the particle’s mean square displacement and the auto correlation function of its velocity to the expected value. Uses the Observables/Correlators framework.

  • dpd.py

    Set up a DPD fluid and calculate pressure as a function of the varying density. The fluid is thermalized using a DPD thermostat.

  • drude_bmimpf6.py

    Particle polarization with cold Drude oscillators on a coarse-grained simulation of the ionic liquid BMIM PF6.

  • ekboundaries.py

    Set up an electrokinetics (LB) fluid confined between charged walls.

  • electrophoresis.py

    Simulate electrophoresis of a linear polymer using the P3M electrostatics solver.

  • espresso_logo.py

    Build the ESPResSo logo with particles.

  • gibbs_ensemble_client.py

    Client part of the Gibbs ensemble simulation. This script handles the simulation boxes and communicates the energies to the host. The Monte-Carlo part of the simulation is done by the gibbs_ensemble_socket.py script.

  • gibbs_ensemble_socket.py

    Simulate a Gibbs-ensemble of a Lennard-Jones fluid at a fixed temperature. This script does the Monte-Carlo part of the Gibbs-ensemble, however for the energy calculation of the systems, two instances of the gibbs_ensemble_client.py script are executed, which each run a different instance of ESPResSo.

    The Gibbs-ensemble implemented in these scripts closely refers to chapter 8 of Daan Fenkel and Berend Smit ‘Understanding Molecular Simulation, Second edition’. All equation references noted in this script can be found there.

    Due to the cutoff and shifting of the LJ-potential the simulated points in the phase diagram differ from the long range uncut LJ-potential. The phase diagram of the used potential can be found in ‘B. Smit, J. Chem. Phys. 96 (11), 1992, Phase diagrams of Lennard-Jones fluids’.

  • grand_canonical.py

    Perform a grand canonical simulation of a system in contact with a salt reservoir while maintaining a constant chemical potential.

  • h5md.py

    Write ESPResSo trajectories in the H5MD format. See Writing H5MD-files.

  • immersed_boundary/sampleImmersedBoundary.py

    Simulate the motion of a spherical red blood cell-like particle advected in a planar Poiseuille flow, with or without volume conservation. For more details, see Immersed Boundary Method for soft elastic objects.

  • lb_profile.py

    Simulate the flow of a lattice-Boltzmann fluid past a cylinder, obtain the velocity profile in polar coordinates and compare it to the analytical solution.

  • lbf.py

    Set up a lattice-Boltzmann fluid and apply an external force density on it.

  • lj-demo.py

    Simulate a Lennard-Jones fluid in different thermodynamic ensembles (NVT, NpT). Sliders from a MIDI controller can change system variables such as temperature and volume. Some thermodynamic observables are analyzed and plotted live.

  • lj_liquid.py

    Simulate a Lennard-Jones fluid maintained at a fixed temperature by a Langevin thermostat. Shows the basic features of how to:

    • set up system parameters, particles and interactions.

    • warm up and integrate.

    • write parameters, configurations and observables to files.

    The particles in the system are of two types: type 0 and type 1. Type 0 particles interact with each other via a repulsive WCA interaction. Type 1 particles neither interact with themselves nor with type 0 particles.

  • lj_liquid_distribution.py

    Set up a Lennard-Jones fluid maintained at a fixed temperature by a Langevin thermostat. The particles in the system are of two types: type 0 and type 1. Type 0 particles interact with each other via a repulsive WCA interaction. Type 1 particles neither interact with themselves nor with type 0 particles. The distribution of minimum distances between particles of type 0 and type 1 is recorded with distribution(). See Particle distribution.

  • lj_liquid_structurefactor.py

    Set up a Lennard-Jones fluid maintained at a fixed temperature by a Langevin thermostat. The particles in the system are of two types: type 0 and type 1. Type 0 particles interact with each other via a repulsive WCA interaction. Type 1 particles neither interact with themselves nor with type 0 particles. The spherically averaged structure factor of particles of type 0 and type 1 is calculated with structure_factor(). See Structure factor.

  • load_checkpoint.py

    Basic usage of the checkpointing feature. Show how to load the state of:

    • custom user variables.

    • non-bonded interactions.

    • particles.

    • P3M parameters.

    • thermostat.

  • MDAnalysisIntegration.py

    Show how to expose configuration to MDAnalysis at run time. The functions of MDAnalysis can be used to perform some analysis or convert the frame to other formats (CHARMM, GROMACS, …). For more details, see Writing various formats using MDAnalysis.

  • minimal-charged-particles.py

    Simulate an equal number of positively and negatively charged particles using the P3M solver. The system is maintained at a constant temperature using a Langevin thermostat.

  • minimal-diamond.py

    Set up a diamond-structured polymer network.

  • minimal-polymer.py

    Set up a linear polymer.

  • object_in_fluid/motivation.py

    Simulate the motion of flexible red blood cells in a lattice-Boltzmann fluid with solid obstacles. For more details, see Object-in-fluid.

  • observables_correlators.py

    Measure mean square displacements using the Observables/Correlators framework.

  • p3m.py

    Simulate a Lennard-Jones liquid with charges. The P3M method is used to calculate electrostatic interactions.

  • reaction_ensemble.py

    Guide for the reaction ensemble and the constant pH ensemble. The modeled reaction is \(\mathrm{AH} \leftrightarrow \mathrm{A}^- + \mathrm{H}^+\).

  • reaction_ensemble_complex_reaction.py

    Guide for the reaction ensemble. The modeled reaction is \(2\mathrm{A} + 3\mathrm{B} \leftrightarrow 4\mathrm{C} + 1\mathrm{D} + 3\mathrm{E}\).

  • rigid_body.py

    Demonstrates the construction of a rigid object by means of the VIRTUAL_SITES_RELATIVE feature.

  • save_checkpoint.py

    Basic usage of the checkpointing feature. Show how to write the state of:

    • custom user variables.

    • non-bonded interactions.

    • particles.

    • P3M parameters.

    • thermostat.

  • slice_input.py

    Illustrate how particles of interest can be accessed via slicing.

  • visualization_bonded.py

    Visualize the simulation of a linear polymer.

  • visualization_cellsystem.py

    Visualize the system cells and MPI domains. Run ESPResSo in parallel to color particles by node. With OpenMPI, this can be achieved using mpiexec -n 4 ./pypresso ../samples/visualization_cellsystem.py. Set property system.cell_system.node_grid = [i, j, k] (with i * j * k equal to the number of MPI ranks) to change the way the cellsystem is partitioned. Only the domain of MPI rank 0 will be shown in wireframe.

  • visualization_charged.py

    Visualize a simulation with a pool of particles with various charges, LJ parameters and masses.

  • visualization_constraints.py

    Visualize shape-based constraints interacting with a Lennard-Jones gas.

  • visualization_elc.py

    Visualize charged particles confined between two plates of a capacitor with a potential difference. The system is periodic in the xy-plane but has a gap in the z-direction. The ELC method subtracts the electrostatic contribution from the periodic images in the z-direction. The system total charge is zero. For more details, see Electrostatic Layer Correction (ELC).

  • visualization_interactive.py

    Visualize a simulation box where the particles can be repositioned via the mouse and timed callbacks, and the temperature of the thermostat can be changed via the keyboard.

  • visualization_lbboundaries.py

    Visualize lattice-Boltzmann boundary nodes.

  • visualization_ljliquid.py

    Visualize a Lennard-Jones liquid with live plotting via matplotlib.

  • visualization_npt.py

    Visualize particle dumbbells in the NpT ensemble (constant temperature, constant pressure, variable volume).

  • visualization_poiseuille.py

    Visualize the Poiseuille flow in a lattice-Boltzmann fluid with an external force applied.

  • wang_landau_reaction_ensemble.py

    Simulate two reacting monomers which are bonded via a harmonic potential. The script aborts as soon as the abortion criterion in the Wang-Landau algorithm is met: the Wang-Landau simulation runs until the Wang-Landau potential has converged and then raises a Warning that it has converged, effectively aborting the simulation.

    With the setup of the Wang-Landau algorithm in this script, you sample the density of states of a three-dimensional reacting harmonic oscillator as a function of the two collective variables 1) degree of association and 2) potential energy.

    The recorded Wang-Landau potential (which is updated during the simulation) is written to the file WL_potential_out.dat.

    In this simulation setup the Wang-Landau potential is the density of states. You can view the converged Wang-Landau potential e.g. via plotting with gnuplot: splot "WL_potential_out.dat". As expected the three-dimensional harmonic oscillator has a density of states which goes like \(\sqrt{E_{\text{pot}}}\).

    For a scientific description and different ways to use the algorithm please consult https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jctc.6b00791

  • widom_insertion.py

    Measure the excess chemical potential of a charged WCA fluid via Widom’s insertion method.

1.6. On units

What is probably one of the most confusing subjects for beginners of ESPResSo is, that ESPResSo does not predefine any units. While most MD programs specify a set of units, like, for example, that all lengths are measured in Ångström or nanometers, times are measured in nano- or picoseconds and energies are measured in \(\mathrm{kJ/mol}\), ESPResSo does not do so.

Instead, the length-, time- and energy scales can be freely chosen by the user. Once these three scales are fixed, all remaining units are derived from these three basic choices.

The probably most important choice is the length scale. A length of \(1.0\) can mean a nanometer, an Ångström, or a kilometer - depending on the physical system, that the user has in mind when he writes his ESPResSo-script. When creating particles that are intended to represent a specific type of atoms, one will probably use a length scale of Ångström. This would mean, that the parameter \(\sigma\) of the Lennard-Jones interaction between two atoms would be set to twice the van-der-Waals radius of the atom in Ångström. Alternatively, one could set \(\sigma\) to \(2.0\) and measure all lengths in multiples of the van-der-Waals radius. When simulation colloidal particles, which are usually of micrometer size, one will choose their diameter (or radius) as basic length scale, which is much larger than the Ångström scale used in atomistic simulations.

The second choice to be made is the energy scale. One can for example choose to set the Lennard-Jones parameter \(\epsilon\) to the energy in \(\mathrm{kJ/mol}\). Then all energies will be measured in that unit. Alternatively, one can choose to set it to \(1.0\) and measure everything in multiples of the van-der-Waals binding energy of the respective particles.

The final choice is the time (or mass) scale. By default, ESPResSo uses a reduced mass of 1 for all particles, so that the mass unit is simply the mass of one particle. Combined with the energy and length scale, this is sufficient to derive the resulting time scale:

\[[\mathrm{time}] = [\mathrm{length}]\sqrt{\frac{[\mathrm{mass}]}{[\mathrm{energy}]}}\]

This means, that if you measure lengths in Ångström, energies in \(k_B T\) at 300K and masses in 39.95u, then your time scale is \(\mathring{A} \sqrt{39.95u / k_B T} = 0.40\,\mathrm{ps}\).

On the other hand, if you want a particular time scale, then the mass scale can be derived from the time, energy and length scales as

\[[\mathrm{mass}] = [\mathrm{energy}]\frac{[\mathrm{time}]^2}{[\mathrm{length}]^2}.\]

By activating the feature MASS, you can specify particle masses in the chosen unit system.

A special note is due regarding the temperature, which is coupled to the energy scale by Boltzmann’s constant. However, since ESPResSo does not enforce a particular unit system, we also don’t know the numerical value of the Boltzmann constant in the current unit system. Therefore, when specifying the temperature of a thermostat, you actually do not define the temperature, but the value of the thermal energy \(k_B T\) in the current unit system. For example, if you measure energy in units of \(\mathrm{kJ/mol}\) and your real temperature should be 300K, then you need to set the thermostat’s effective temperature to \(k_B 300\, K \mathrm{mol / kJ} = 2.494\).

As long as one remains within the same unit system throughout the whole ESPResSo-script, there should be no problems.

1.7. Available simulation methods

ESPResSo provides a number of useful methods. The following table shows the various methods as well as their status. The table distinguishes between the state of the development of a certain feature and the state of its use. We distinguish between five levels:


means that the method is part of the core of ESPResSo, and that it is extensively developed and used by many people.


means that the method is developed and used by independent people from different groups.


means that the method is developed and used in one group.


means that the method is developed and used by one person only.


means that the method is developed and used by nobody.


means that the method might have side effects.

In the “Tested” column, we note whether there is an integration test for the method.

If you believe that the status of a certain method is wrong, please report so to the developers using the instructions in Contributing.


Development Status

Usage Status


Integrators, Thermostats, Barostats

Velocity-Verlet Integrator




Langevin Thermostat




Isotropic NpT




Quaternion Integrator




Stokesian Dynamics





Short-range Interactions








Relative Virtual Sites




RATTLE Rigid Bonds




Gay–Berne Interaction




Coulomb Interaction





P3M on GPU




Dipolar P3M




















Hydrodynamic Interaction





Lattice-Boltzmann on GPU





VTF output




VTK output









Online visualisation (Mayavi)




Online visualisation (OpenGL)









Collision Detection




Reaction Ensemble




Constant pH Method








Immersed boundary method








DPD Thermostat




1.8. Software releases

ESPResSo releases use the following versioning scheme: major.minor.patch_level. New features are introduced in major and minor releases, while bugfix releases only patch bugs without adding or removing features. Since the patch_level doesn’t affect the capabilities of the software, it’s common to refer to releases simply as major.minor.

New users should always choose the latest release. When opting for an older release, we recommend using the latest bugfix release from that line (for example 4.0.2 instead of 4.0), unless you need to capture the behavior of bugs for reproducibility reasons. When filing bug reports or citing ESPResSo, the version should always be mentioned. See our policies on bug reports and citing the software for more details.

Releases from 4.0 onward can be found on GitHub. Older releases from 2.1 to 3.3 can be found in GNU Savannah. See our policy on API backward compatibility if you need more details.

1.8.1. Release workflow

Major and minor releases are branched from the development branch python. When a version X.Y.0 is released, the python branch is copied to a new branch named X.Y, at which point the python branch is ready to accept contributions for the X.Y+1.0 release. The X.Y branch still gets bugfix releases X.Y.1, X.Y.2, …, for several months.

GitHub milestones track the progress of each release. They can give you an idea of the changes in future releases, although it’s more convenient to follow the live release notes in the wiki (listed under “Planned releases” in the side bar). These notes are updated monthly. Most users will only be interested in the live release notes of the planned bugfix release for the version of ESPResSo they’re using.

If you’re actively developing code for ESPResSo, you might also be interested in the summaries of the ESPResSo meetings, where the core team discusses plans for future releases and feature freezes.

1.8.2. Intended interface compatibility between ESPResSo versions

With regards to the stability of the Python interface, we have the following guidelines:

  • patch_level: The Python interface will not change if only the patch_level number is different. Example: 4.0.0 \(\to\) 4.0.1.

  • minor: There will be no silent interface changes between two versions with different minor numbers, i.e. a simulation script will not silently produce different results with the new version. The interface can, however, be extended. In important cases, the interface can change in such a way that using the old interface produces a clear error message and the simulation is terminated. Example: 4.0.2 \(\to\) 4.1.0.

  • major: No guarantees are made for a transition between major versions. Example: 4.1.2 \(\to\) 5.0.

  • No guarantees are made with regards to the development branch on GitHub.

  • No guarantees are made with respect to the C++ bindings in the simulation core.

1.8.3. How to cite ESPResSo

Please cite [WWS+19] (BibTeX key weik19a in doc/sphinx/zrefs.bib) for ESPResSo 4.0 and later, or [ALK+13] and [LAMH06] (BibTeX keys arnold13a and limbach06a in doc/sphinx/zrefs.bib) for ESPResSo 2.0 to 3.3. To find the version number, use the following command:

./pypresso -c "import espressomd.version;print(espressomd.version.friendly())"

A number of algorithms in ESPResSo are fairly advanced and unique to ESPResSo. The authors of these contributions kindly ask you to cite the relevant publications, using the BibTeX entries indicated in this user guide.

A complete citation would look like this:

Simulations were carried out with ESPResSo 4.1[24] using the ICC* algorithm[25].

[24] F. Weik, R. Weeber, K. Szuttor et al. ESPResSo 4.0 – an extensible software package for simulating soft matter systems. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 227, 1789–1816 (2019). doi:10.1140/epjst/e2019-800186-9.
[25] C. Tyagi, M. Süzen, M. Sega et al. An iterative, fast, linear-scaling method for computing induced charges on arbitrary dielectric boundaries. J. Chem. Phys. 132, 154112 (2010). doi:10.1063/1.3376011.

You may also provide the patch level, when relevant. If you developed code for ESPResSo and made it available in a publicly accessible repository, you should consider providing the corresponding URL, for example in a footnote:

The method was implemented for ESPResSo 4.1.4[24]. The full code is available online*.

[24] F. Weik, R. Weeber, K. Szuttor et al. ESPResSo 4.0 – an extensible software package for simulating soft matter systems. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 227, 1789–1816 (2019). doi:10.1140/epjst/e2019-800186-9.