Proposal: Materials Modeling

Our site is scheduled to live as "Materials Modeling" on Tuesday:

That comment also suggests a Meta discussion that is "more open" than this one "What should this site be called?", which was limiting answers to the name only and forced discussion into comments (sorry about that! I was just copying the name proposal format of the OR site!).

Some suggestions came up in that Discussion post:

1) Matter Modeling (matter.se)
2) Modeling of Matter (matter.se)
3) Molecular and Materials Modeling (mmm.se)
4) Modeling Matters (mm.se)
5) Materials Modeling (materials.se) ← i.e. remain the same

This makes me consider that the original name I chose "Materials Modeling" might be too restrictive for people modeling material fragments, clusters, or other types of matter that comprise the final material, or for people that use the same techniques & software as materials modelers, but for modeling molecules. At the same time, "matter" might be too broad because matter can range from quarks to galaxies. "Molecular and Materials Modeling" might be a happy middle-ground.

9 Answers 9


My vote would be for Molecular and Materials Modeling.

I think this does the best job of conveying the scope of the site without being too limiting (just materials could suggest a great number of MD and electronic structure questions are off topic) or too broad (matter seems like it could cover things like modeling planetary trajectories or the spreading of a virus).

As to concerns of too much overlap with other sites, I would imagine our relationship with Chem would be not unlike the relationship between Math and Cross Validated. Stats questions are clearly on topic for Math, but there is enough interest in highly specialized questions about Statistics to warrant its own site. From my own experience with Chem, computational questions are still fairly niche there, often having difficulty attracting the specialized, expert attention they would need.

  • 1
    Excellent points all around! Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 22:07
  • 3
    I would also mention that QuantumComputingSE overlaps with Physics, Math, CS, Theoretical CS, Chemistry, SO, AI, MathOverflow and others.... AstronomySE overlaps with SpaceExplorationSE, PhysicsSE, EarthScienceSE and others..... Chemistry overlaps with Biology, Physics and Math..... Biology overlaps with Bioinformatics and Chemistry...... Math overlaps with MathOverflow, MathEducators, and History of Math..... Basically there's no SE that doesn't overlap with another SE! Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 22:10
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    The purpose of our SE is to be for experts. 70% of the committers listed themselves as professionals, experts, researchers, academics, or enthusiasts. This is very very different from broad science SEs that cover everything (like PhysicsSE which covers galaxies, quarks, radiation, optics & medical imaging physics, or like ChemistrySE which covers acid/base homework, biochemistry, etc.). This reminds me of MathOverflow vs Math. An SE full of experts and research-level academics is more like MathOverflow whereas broad sites covering everything are more like MathSE. Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 22:15

I agree with the third option: Molecular and Materials Modeling.

As I noticed from the other post, considering the potential contents of this site, I think its name should be broader than "Materials Modeling". One reason is that the proposal includes example questions about modeling that are not necessarily related only to materials. Moreover, there are other questions related to electronic structure methods that can also be very common for people working in the materials or molecular field. As Tyberius also mentioned, the initially proposed name could suggest that many useful questions for the site, about electronic structure of finite systems (molecules, clusters, etc.) and molecular dynamics, are off-topic, and the aim of the site is to include all these topics also.

In addition, I would suggest the matmol.stackexchange.com or molmat.stackexchange.com instead of mmm.stackexchange.com

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    We should definitely avoid the Computational Science and https://scicomp.stackexchange.com/ dilemma. So if Molelcular and Materials Modeling is logged in, the abbreviation should be molmat. Although I personally quite like mmm. Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 11:48

My vote would be for Molecular and Materials Modeling.

As we know, molecules and materials are closely related while differs greatly. In practice, if one wants to modelling them, one have to know knowledge in both Quantum mechanics and Classical mechanics for both electrons and nuclei. I mean, there is nothing different in the underlying mechanism. However, historically, scientists in these two fields separated because the techs are different.

Nowadays, however, the two fields should be merged, not only because people now want to put molecules on materials to try some catalysis, but also in simulation methodology: we want a functional good for both materials and molecules; we also want an MD scheme works in both areas. On the other side, a lot of people who simulated molecules turns to study materials with little pain, and vice versa.

Matter modelling, however, goes too far. It is somehow equal to 'World modelling'. We still want the site to be professional.


I'd also go for Molecular and Materials Modeling but with regards to the URL, mmm.stackexchange.com seems rather unclear.

So my suggestions are either materials.stackexchange.com or materialsmodeling.stackexchange.com.

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    I have seen it both ways. Some sites just use an abbreviation in the url (Operations Research=or, History of Science and Math=hsm) while others do the whole name even if it is fairly long (softwareengineering). I think mmm could be catchy, but maybe materialsmodeling would be a clearer url.
    – Tyberius
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 16:03
  • That's a good point about OR. @TheSimpliFire is a mod on OR! Actually here is where the word "matter" might not be such a bad idea. Honestly 2 years ago I would have considered it strange to describe our research field as "matter modeling" but when Alan Aspuru-Guzik left Harvard to start is lab at University of Toronto, he took the domain matter.toronto.edu (he always worked on both materials and molecules). User tmgriffiths also suggested in our other discussion thread, to call our site "Modeling Matters" or "Matter Modeling". Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 18:15
  • The last point is perhaps that other types of matter modeling wouldn't be off-topic, as Coupled Cluster theory actually originated in Particle Physics in the 1950s before it was adopted by chemists in the 1960s and now is being adopted to solid-state materials modeling in PySCF and other programs. FCIQMC (full configuration interaction quantum Monte Carlo) was also used in particle physics before being re-invented by chemists. Quantum chemistry software such as DIRAC is very often being used often to study sub-atomic physics too, whenever a difficult Schrodinger eqn has to be solved. Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 18:20
  • So I would happy with either mmm.stackexchange or matter.stackexchange. Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 18:21

I definitely think Molecular and Materials Modeling is the better of the two naming options for this SE group. In a Venn diagram with the two circles Molecular Modeling and Materials Modeling there would be some overlap. However the overlap would not be complete as the two circles contain different information including theoretical concepts, applications, technologies, computational methods (both classical and quantum) and software libraries.


This is very limited data (only 21 hours since the poll was put up, and only about 40 people in the Facebook group of 1518 members answered), but I thought it was interesting to see that:

  • 29 people describe their research as Electronic Structure (i.e. materials and molecules both)
  • 21 people describe their research as Molecular Modeling
  • 18 people describe their research as Molecular Dynamics (all are included in the above bullet point)
  • 13 people describe their research as strictly/only Materials Modeling

Here is where I got the numbers:

enter image description here

All original data can easily be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MaterialsModelingStackExchange/


My vote is for option 3: Molecular and Materials Modeling (mmm.se).



My vote would be for:

3) Molecular and Materials Modeling (mmm.se)

Additionally, I like Verktaj's suggestion of molmat.stackexchange.com instead of mmm.stackexchange.com.


We just launched Materials Modeling into Private Beta with that name. You mentioned Operations Research, so I'd link you to this answer for a bit of context on the site definition and launch process; particularly:

When a proposal nears the end of its Definition, it undergoes a final review by the Community Team to see if and how it fits with the rest of the network. During the final review, any discussions and surrounding activities are considered, and the title and description are finalized in preparation for launch at 100% Commitment.
This site has been fully approved, and it is on its final approach to becoming a full Q&A site.

That means that that discussion has gone by a while back, and Materials Modeling was set on.

However, if the name is really not appropriate for the site (since it may exclude a big and important chunk of the community you'd like to see included), I'd invite y'all to talk about this again in your Meta site with the whole community — it's not ideal, but we've had other instances of sites whose names have changed after launch.

  • Thank you JNat! Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 18:51

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