- Adaptive Biasing Force
- ABF requirements on collective variables
- Parameters for ABF
- Output files
- Post-processing: reconstructing a multidimensional free energy surface

- Metadynamics
- Output files
- Performance tuning
- Well-tempered metadynamics
- Multiple-replicas metadynamics
- Compatibility and post-processing

- Harmonic restraints
- Moving restraints: steered molecular dynamics
- Moving restraints: umbrella sampling
- Changing force constant

- Multidimensional histograms

Biasing and analysis methods

All of the biasing and analysis methods implemented (`abf`,
`harmonic`, `histogram` and `metadynamics`)
recognize the following options:

(colvar bias context) Identifier for the bias`name`**Acceptable Values:**string**Default Value:**`type of bias bias index`**Description:**This string is used to identify the bias or analysis method in output messages and to name some output files.(colvar bias context) Collective variables involved`colvars`**Acceptable Values:**space-separated list of colvar names**Description:**This option selects by name all the colvars to which this bias or analysis will be applied.(colvar bias context) Write the current bias energy to the trajectory file`outputEnergy`**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**If this option is chosen and`colvarsTrajFrequency`is not zero, the current value of the biasing energy will be written to the trajectory file during the simulation.

For a full description of the Adaptive Biasing Force method, see
reference [19]. For details about this implementation,
see references [31] and [32]. **When
publishing research that makes use of this functionality, please cite
references [19] and [32].**

An alternate usage of this feature is the application of custom
tabulated biasing potentials to one or more colvars. See
`inputPrefix` and `updateBias` below.

ABF is based on the thermodynamic integration (TI) scheme for computing free energy profiles. The free energy as a function of a set of collective variables is defined from the canonical distribution of , :

In the TI formalism, the free energy is obtained from its gradient, which is generally calculated in the form of the average of a force exerted on , taken over an iso- surface:

Several formulae that take the form of (50) have been proposed. This implementation relies partly on the classic formulation [14], and partly on a more versatile scheme originating in a work by Ruiz-Montero et al. [57], generalized by den Otter [20] and extended to multiple variables by Ciccotti et al. [17]. Consider a system subject to constraints of the form . Let ( be arbitrarily chosen vector fields ( ) verifying, for all , , and :

then the following holds [17]:

where is the potential energy function. can be interpreted as the direction along which the force acting on variable is measured, whereas the second term in the average corresponds to the geometric entropy contribution that appears as a Jacobian correction in the classic formalism [14]. Condition (51) states that the direction along which the system force on is measured is orthogonal to the gradient of , which means that the force measured on does not act on .

Equation (52) implies that constraint forces
are orthogonal to the directions along which the free energy gradient is
measured, so that the measurement is effectively performed on unconstrained
degrees of freedom.
In NAMD, constraints are typically applied to the lengths of
bonds involving hydrogen atoms, for example in TIP3P water molecules (parameter `rigidBonds`, section 5.6.1).

In the framework of ABF, is accumulated in bins of finite size, , thereby providing an estimate of the free energy gradient according to equation (50). The biasing force applied along the colective variables to overcome free energy barriers is calculated as:

where denotes the current estimate of the free energy gradient at the current point in the collective variable subspace.

As sampling of the phase space proceeds, the estimate
**
**
is progressively refined. The biasing
force introduced in the equations of motion guarantees that in
the bin centered around
,
the forces acting along the selected collective variables average
to zero over time. Eventually, as the undelying free energy surface is canceled
by the adaptive bias, evolution of the system along
is governed mainly by diffusion.
Although this implementation of ABF can in principle be used in
arbitrary dimension, a higher-dimension collective variable space is likely
to result in sampling difficulties.
Most commonly, the number of variables is one or two.

ABF requirements on collective variables

*Only linear combinations*of colvar components can be used in ABF calculations.*Availability of system forces*is necessary. The following colvar components can be used in ABF calculations:`distance`,`distance_xy`,`distance_z`,`angle`,`dihedral`,`gyration`,`rmsd`and`eigenvector`. Atom groups may not be replaced by dummy atoms, unless they are excluded from the force measurement by specifying`oneSiteSystemForce`, if available.*Mutual orthogonality of colvars*. In a multidimensional ABF calculation, equation (51) must be satisfied for any two colvars and . Various cases fulfill this orthogonality condition:- and are based on non-overlapping sets of atoms.
- atoms involved in the force measurement on
do not participate in
the definition of
. This can be obtained using the option
`oneSiteSystemForce`of the`distance`,`angle`, and`dihedral`components (example: Ramachandran angles , ). -
and
are orthogonal by construction. Useful cases are the sum and
difference of two components, or
`distance_z`and`distance_xy`using the same axis.

*Mutual orthogonality of components*: when several components are combined into a colvar, it is assumed that their vectors (equation (53)) are mutually orthogonal. The cases described for colvars in the previous paragraph apply.*Orthogonality of colvars and constraints*: equation 52 can be satisfied in two simple ways, if either no constrained atoms are involved in the force measurement (see point 3 above) or pairs of atoms joined by a constrained bond are part of an*atom group*which only intervenes through its center (center of mass or geometric center) in the force measurement. In the latter case, the contributions of the two atoms to the left-hand side of equation 52 cancel out. For example, all atoms of a rigid TIP3P water molecule can safely be included in an atom group used in a`distance`component.

The following parameters can be set in the ABF configuration block
(in addition to generic bias parameters such as `colvars`):

(`fullSamples``abf`context) Number of samples in a bin prior to application of the ABF**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**200**Description:**To avoid nonequilibrium effects in the dynamics of the system, due to large fluctuations of the force exerted along the reaction coordinate, , it is recommended to apply the biasing force only after a reasonable estimate of the latter has been obtained.(`maxForce``abf`context) Maximum magnitude of the ABF force**Acceptable Values:**positive decimals (one per colvar)**Default Value:**disabled**Description:**This option enforces a cap on the magnitude of the biasing force effectively applied by this ABF bias on each colvar. This can be useful in the presence of singularities in the PMF such as hard walls, where the discretization of the average force becomes very inaccurate, causing the colvar's diffusion to get ``stuck'' at the singularity. To enable this cap, provide one non-negative value for each colvar. The unit of force is kcal/mol divided by the colvar unit (Å for lengths, degrees for angles, etc.).(`hideJacobian``abf`context) Remove geometric entropy term from calculated free energy gradient?**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`no`**Description:**In a few special cases, most notably distance-based variables, an alternate definition of the potential of mean force is traditionally used, which excludes the Jacobian term describing the effect of geometric entropy on the distribution of the variable. This results, for example, in particle-particle potentials of mean force being flat at large separations. Setting this parameter to`yes`causes the output data to follow that convention, by removing this contribution from the output gradients while applying internally the corresponding correction to ensure uniform sampling. It is not allowed for colvars with multiple components.(`outputFreq``abf`context) Frequency (in timesteps) at which ABF data files are refreshed**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**Colvar module restart frequency**Description:**The files containing the free energy gradient estimate and sampling histogram (and the PMF in one-dimensional calculations) are written on disk at the given time interval.(`historyFreq``abf`context) Frequency (in timesteps) at which ABF history files are accumulated**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**0**Description:**If this number is non-zero, the free energy gradient estimate and sampling histogram (and the PMF in one-dimensional calculations) are appended to files on disk at the given time interval. History file names use the same prefix as output files, with ```.hist`'' appended.(`inputPrefix``abf`context) Filename prefix for reading ABF data**Acceptable Values:**list of strings**Description:**If this parameter is set, for each item in the list, ABF tries to read a gradient and a sampling files named`inputPrefix .grad`and`inputPrefix .count`. This is done at startup and sets the initial state of the ABF algorithm. The data from all provided files is combined appropriately. Also, the grid definition (min and max values, width) need not be the same that for the current run. This command is useful to piece together data from simulations in different regions of collective variable space, or change the colvar boundary values and widths. Note that it is not recommended to use it to switch to a smaller width, as that will leave some bins empty in the finer data grid. This option is NOT compatible with reading the data from a restart file (`colvarsInput`option of the NAMD config file).(`applyBias``abf`context) Apply the ABF bias?**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`yes`**Description:**If this is set to no, the calculation proceeds normally but the adaptive biasing force is not applied. Data is still collected to compute the free energy gradient. This is mostly intended for testing purposes, and should not be used in routine simulations.(`updateBias``abf`context) Update the ABF bias?**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`yes`**Description:**If this is set to no, the initial biasing force (e.g. read from a restart fileor through`inputPrefix`) is not updated during the simulation. As a result, a constant bias is applied. This can be used to apply a custom, tabulated biasing potential to any combination of colvars. To that effect, one should prepare a gradient file containing the gradient of the potential to be applied (negative of the bias force), and a count file containing only values greater than`fullSamples`. These files must match the grid parameters of the colvars.

ABF also depends on parameters from collective variables to define the grid on which free
energy gradients are computed. In the direction of each colvar, the grid ranges from
`lowerBoundary` to `upperBoundary`, and the bin width (grid spacing)
is set by the `width` parameter.

The ABF bias produces the following files, all in multicolumn ASCII format:

*outputName*`.grad`: current estimate of the free energy gradient (grid), in multicolumn;*outputName*`.count`: total number of samples collected, on the same grid;*outputName*`.pmf`: only for one-dimensional calculations, integrated free energy profile or PMF.

If several ABF biases are defined concurrently, their name is inserted to produce
unique filenames for output, as in *outputName*`.abf1.grad`.
This should not be done routinely and could lead to meaningless results:
only do it if you know what you are doing!

If the colvar space has been partitioned into sections (*windows*) in which independent
ABF simulations have been run, the resulting data can be merged using the
`inputPrefix` option described above (a NAMD run of 0 steps is enough).

If a one-dimensional calculation is performed, the estimated free energy
gradient is automatically integrated and a potential of mean force is written
under the file name `<outputName>.pmf`, in a plain text format that
can be read by most data plotting and analysis programs (e.g. gnuplot).

In dimension 2 or greater, integrating the discretized gradient becomes non-trivial. The
standalone utility `abf_integrate` is provided to perform that task.
`abf_integrate` reads the gradient data and uses it to perform a Monte-Carlo (M-C)
simulation in discretized collective variable space (specifically, on the same grid
used by ABF to discretize the free energy gradient).
By default, a history-dependent bias (similar in spirit to metadynamics) is used:
at each M-C step, the bias at the current position is incremented by a preset amount
(the *hill height*).
Upon convergence, this bias counteracts optimally the underlying gradient;
it is negated to obtain the estimate of the free energy surface.

`abf_integrate` is invoked using the command-line:

integrate <gradient_file> [-n <nsteps>] [-t <temp>] [-m (0|1)] [-h <hill_height>] [-f <factor>]

The gradient file name is provided first, followed by other parameters in any order. They are described below, with their default value in square brackets:

`-n`: number of M-C steps to be performed; by default, a minimal number of steps is chosen based on the size of the grid, and the integration runs until a convergence criterion is satisfied (based on the RMSD between the target gradient and the real PMF gradient)`-t`: temperature for M-C sampling (unrelated to the simulation temperature) [500 K]`-m`: use metadynamics-like biased sampling? (0 = false) [1]`-h`: increment for the history-dependent bias (``hill height'') [0.01 kcal/mol]`-f`: if non-zero, this factor is used to scale the increment stepwise in the second half of the M-C sampling to refine the free energy estimate [0.5]

Using the default values of all parameters should give reasonable results in most cases.

`abf_integrate` produces the following output files:

`<gradient_file>.pmf`: computed free energy surface`<gradient_file>.histo`: histogram of M-C sampling (not usable in a straightforward way if the history-dependent bias has been applied)`<gradient_file>.est`: estimated gradient of the calculated free energy surface (from finite differences)`<gradient_file>.dev`: deviation between the user-provided numerical gradient and the actual gradient of the calculated free energy surface. The RMS norm of this vector field is used as a convergence criteria and displayed periodically during the integration.

**Note:** Typically, the ``deviation'' vector field does not
vanish as the integration converges. This happens because the
numerical estimate of the gradient does not exactly derive from a
potential, due to numerical approximations used to obtain it (finite
sampling and discretization on a grid).

Metadynamics

The metadynamics method uses a history-dependent potential [40] that generalizes to any type of colvars the conformational flooding [26] and local elevation [33] methods, originally formulated to use as colvars the principal components of a covariance matrix or a set of dihedral angles, respectively. The metadynamics potential on the colvars is defined as:

where is the history-dependent potential acting on the

During the simulation, the system evolves towards the nearest minimum of the ``effective'' potential of mean force , which is the sum of the ``real'' underlying potential of mean force and the the metadynamics potential . Therefore, at any given time the probability of observing the configuration is proportional to : this is also the probability that a new Gaussian ``hill'' is added at that configuration. If the simulation is run for a sufficiently long time, each local minimum is canceled out by the sum of the Gaussian ``hill'' functions. At that stage the the ``effective'' potential of mean force is constant, and is an accurate estimator of the ``real'' potential of mean force , save for an additive constant:

Assuming that the set of collective variables includes all relevant degrees of freedom, the predicted error of the estimate is a simple function of the correlation times of the colvars , and of the user-defined parameters , and [13]. In typical applications, a good rule of thumb can be to choose the ratio much smaller than , where is the longest among 's correlation times: then dictates the resolution of the calculated PMF.

To enable a metadynamics calculation, a `metadynamics` block must be defined in the colvars configuration file.
Its only mandatory keyword is the `colvars` option listing all the variables involved: multidimensional PMFs are obtained by the same `metadynamics` instance applied to all the colvars.

The parameters
and
are specified by the keywords `hillWeight` and `newHillFrequency`, respectively.
The values of these options are optimal for colvars with correlation times
in the range of a few thousand simulation steps, typical of many biomolecular simulations:

(`hillWeight``metadynamics`context) Height of each hill (kcal/mol)**Acceptable Values:**positive decimal**Default Value:**`0.01`**Description:**This option sets the height of the hills that are added during this run. Lower values provide more accurate sampling at the price of longer simulation times to complete a PMF calculation.(`newHillFrequency``metadynamics`context) Frequency of hill creation**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**`1000`**Description:**This option sets the number of integration steps after which a new hill is added to the metadynamics potential. Its value determines the parameter in eq. 55. Higher values provide more accurate sampling at the price of longer simulation times to complete a PMF calculation.

It is the user's responsibility to either leave `hillWeight` and `newHillFrequency` at their default values, or to change them to match the specifics of each system.
The parameter
is instead defined as approximately half the `width` of the corresponding colvar
(see 10.2.1).

Output files

(`writeFreeEnergyFile``metadynamics`context) Periodically write the PMF for visualization**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`on`**Description:**When`useGrids`and this option are`on`, the PMF is written every`colvarsRestartFrequency`steps.(`saveFreeEnergyFile``metadynamics`context) Keep all the PMF files**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**When`writeFreeEnergyFile`and this option are`on`, the step number is included in the file name. Activating this option can be useful to follow more closely the convergence of the simulation, by comparing PMFs separated by short times.

**Note:** when Gaussian hills are deposited near `lowerBoundary` or `upperBoundary` (see 10.2.1) and interpolating grids are used (default behavior), their truncation can give rise to accumulating errors.
In these cases, as a measure of fault-tolerance all Gaussian hills near the boundaries are included in the output state file, and are recalculated analytically whenever the colvar falls outside the grid's boundaries.
(Such measure protects the accuracy of the calculation, and can only be disabled by `hardLowerBoundary` or `hardUpperBoundary`.)
To avoid gradual loss of performance and growth of the state file, either one of the following solutions is recommended:

- enabling the option
`expandBoundaries`, so that the grid's boundaries are automatically recalculated whenever necessary; the resulting`.pmf`will have its abscissas expanded accordingly; - setting
`lowerWall`and`upperWall`well within the interval delimited by`lowerBoundary`and`upperBoundary`.

Performance tuning

(`useGrids``metadynamics`context) Interpolate the hills with grids**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`on`**Description:**This option discretizes all hills for improved performance, accumulating their energy and their gradients on two separate grids of equal spacing. Grids are defined by the values of`lowerBoundary`,`upperBoundary`and`width`for each colvar. Currently, this option is implemented for all types of variables except the non-scalar types (`distanceDir`or`orientation`). If`expandBoundaries`is defined in one of the colvars, grids are automatically expanded along the direction of that colvar.(`hillWidth``metadynamics`context) Relative width of the hills**Acceptable Values:**positive decimal**Default Value:****Description:**Along each colvar, the width of each Gaussian hill ( ) is given by the product between this number and the colvar's`width`. The default value gives hills whose volume is the product of times the`width`of all colvars. For a smoother visualization of the free energy plot, decrease`width`and increase`hillWidth`in the same proportion.**Note:***when*`useGrids`*is*`on`*(default in most cases), values smaller than 1 should be avoided to avoid discretization errors*.(`rebinGrids``metadynamics`context) Recompute the grids when reading a state file**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**When restarting from a state file, the grid's parameters (boundaries and widths) saved in the state file override those in the configuration file. Enabling this option forces the grids to match those in the current configuration file.

Well-tempered metadynamics

(`wellTempered``metadynamics`context) Perform well-tempered metadynamics**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**If enabled, this flag causes well-tempered metadynamics as described by Barducci et al.[4] to be performed, rather than standard metadynamics. The parameter`biasTemperature`is then required. This feature was contributed by Li Li (Luthey-Schulten group, Departement of Chemistry, UIUC).(`biasTemperature``metadynamics`context) Temperature bias for well-tempered metadynamics**Acceptable Values:**positive decimal**Description:**When running metadynamics in the long time limit, collective variable space is sampled to a modified temperature . In conventional metadynamics, the temperature ``boost'' would constantly increases with time. Instead, in well-tempered metadynamics must be defined by the user via`biasTemperature`. If`dumpFreeEnergyFile`is enabled, the written PMF includes the scaling factor [4]. A careful choice of determines the sampling and convergence rate, and is hence crucial to the success of a well-tempered metadynamics simulation.

Multiple-replicas metadynamics

(`multipleReplicas``metadynamics`context) Multiple replicas metadynamics**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**If this option is`on`, multiple (independent) replica of the same system can be run at the same time, and their hills will be combined to obtain a single PMF [55]. Replicas are identified by the value of`replicaID`. Communication is done by files: each replica must be able to read the files created by the others, whose paths are communicated through the file`replicasRegistry`. This file, and the files listed in it, are read every`replicaUpdateFrequency`steps. Every time the colvars state file is written (`colvarsRestartFrequency`), the file:

``*outputName*`.colvars.`*name*`.`*replicaID*`.state`'' is also written, containing the state of the metadynamics bias for`replicaID`. In the time steps between`colvarsRestartFrequency`, new hills are temporarily written to the file:

``*outputName*`.colvars.`*name*`.`*replicaID*`.hills`'', which serves as communication buffer. These files are only required for communication, and may be deleted after a new MD run is started with a different`outputName`.(`replicaID``metadynamics`context) Set the identifier for this replica**Acceptable Values:**string**Description:**If`multipleReplicas`is`on`, this option sets a unique identifier for this replica. All replicas should use identical collective variable configurations, except for the value of this option.(`replicasRegistry``metadynamics`context) Multiple replicas database file**Acceptable Values:**UNIX filename**Default Value:**``*name*`.replica_files.txt`''**Description:**If`multipleReplicas`is`on`, this option sets the path to the replicas' database file.(`replicaUpdateFrequency``metadynamics`context) How often hills are communicated between replicas**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**`newHillFrequency`**Description:**If`multipleReplicas`is`on`, this option sets the number of steps after which each replica (re)reads the other replicas' files. The lowest meaningful value of this number is`newHillFrequency`. If access to the file system is significantly affecting the simulation performance, this number can be increased, at the price of reduced synchronization between replicas. Values higher than`colvarsRestartFrequency`may not improve performance significantly.(`dumpPartialFreeEnergyFile``metadynamics`context) Periodically write the contribution to the PMF from this replica**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`on`**Description:**When`multipleReplicas`is`on`, tje file*outputName*`.pmf`contains the combined PMF from all replicas. Enabling this option produces an additional file*outputName*`.partial.pmf`, which can be useful to quickly monitor the contribution of each replica to the PMF. The requirements for this option are the same as`dumpFreeEnergyFile`.

(`name``metadynamics`context) Name of this metadynamics instance**Acceptable Values:**string**Default Value:**```meta`'' + rank number**Description:**This option sets the name for this metadynamics instance. While it is not advisable to use more than one metadynamics instance within the same simulation, this allows to distinguish each instance from the others. If there is more than one metadynamics instance, the name of this bias is included in the metadynamics output file names, such as e.g. the`.pmf`file.(`keepHills``metadynamics`context) Write each individual hill to the state file**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**When`useGrids`and this option are`on`, all hills are saved to the state file in their analytic form, alongside their grids. This makes it possible to later use exact analytic Gaussians for`rebinGrids`. To only keep track of the history of the added hills,`writeHillsTrajectory`is preferable.(`writeHillsTrajectory``metadynamics`context) Write a log of new hills**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`on`**Description:**If this option is`on`, a logfile is written by the`metadynamics`bias, with the name ``*outputName*`.colvars. name .hills.traj`'', which can be useful to follow the time series of the hills. When`multipleReplicas`is`on`, its name changes to

``*outputName*`.colvars. name . replicaID .hills.traj`''. This file can be used to quickly visualize the positions of all added hills, in case`newHillFrequency`does not coincide with`colvarsRestartFrequency`.

Harmonic restraints

The harmonic biasing method may be used to enforce fixed or moving restraints,
including variants of Steered and Targeted MD. Within energy minimization
runs, it allows for restrained minimization, e.g. to calculate relaxed potential
energy surfaces. In the context of the colvars module,
harmonic potentials are meant according to their textbook definition:
.
Note that this differs from harmonic bond and angle potentials in common
force fields, where the factor of one half is typically omitted,
resulting in a non-standard definition of the force constant.
The restraint energy is reported by NAMD under the MISC title.
A harmonic restraint is set up by a `harmonic {...}`
block, which may contain (in addition to the standard option
`colvars`) the following keywords:

(`forceConstant``harmonic`context) Scaled force constant (kcal/mol)**Acceptable Values:**positive decimal**Default Value:**`1.0`**Description:**This defines a scaled force constant for the harmonic potential. To ensure consistency for multidimensional restraints, it is divided internally by the square of the specific`width`for each colvar involved (which is 1 by default), so that all colvars are effectively dimensionless and of commensurate size. For instance, setting a scaled force constant of 10 kcal/mol acting on two colvars, an angle with a`width`of 5 degrees and a distance with a width of 0.5 Å, will apply actual force constants of 0.4 kcal/mol degree for the angle and 40 kcal/mol/Å for the distance.(`centers``harmonic`context) Initial harmonic restraint centers**Acceptable Values:**space-separated list of colvar values**Description:**The centers (equilibrium values) of the restraint are entered here. The number of values must be the number of requested colvars. Each value is a decimal number if the corresponding colvar returns a scalar, a ```(x, y, z)`'' triplet if it returns a unit vector or a vector, and a ```q0, q1, q2, q3)`'' quadruplet if it returns a rotational quaternion. If a colvar has periodicities or symmetries, its closest image to the restraint center is considered when calculating the harmonic potential.

**Tip:** A complex set of restraints can be applied to a system,
by defining several colvars, and applying one or more harmonic
restraints to different groups of colvars. In some cases, dozens of
colvars can be defined, but their value may not be relevant: to
limit the size of the colvars trajectory file, it
may be wise to disable `outputValue` for such ``ancillary''
variables, and leave it enabled only for ``relevant'' ones.

Moving restraints: steered molecular dynamics

The following options allow to change gradually the centers of the harmonic restraints during a simulations. When the centers are changed continuously, a steered MD in a collective variable space is carried out.

(`targetCenters``harmonic`context) Steer the restraint centers towards these targets**Acceptable Values:**space-separated list of colvar values**Description:**When defined, the current`centers`will be moved towards these values during the simulation. By default, the centers are moved over a total of`targetNumSteps`steps by a linear interpolation, in the spirit of Steered MD. If`targetNumStages`is set to a nonzero value, the change is performed in discrete stages, lasting`targetNumSteps`steps*each*. This second mode may be used to sample successive windows in the context of an Umbrella Sampling simulation. When continuing a simulation run, the`centers`specified in the configuration file`colvarsConfig`are overridden by those saved in the restart file`colvarsInput`. To perform Steered MD in an arbitrary space of colvars, it is sufficient to use this option and enable`outputAppliedForce`within each of the colvars involved.(`targetNumSteps``harmonic`context) Number of steps for steering**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Description:**In single-stage (continuous) transformations, defines the number of MD steps required to move the restraint centers (or force constant) towards the values specified with`targetCenters`or`targetForceConstant`. After the target values have been reached, the centers (resp. force constant) are kept fixed. In multi-stage transformations, this sets the number of MD steps*per stage*.(`outputCenters``harmonic`context) Write the current centers to the trajectory file**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**If this option is chosen and`colvarsTrajFrequency`is not zero, the positions of the restraint centers will be written to the trajectory file during the simulation. This option allows to conveniently extract the PMF from the colvars trajectory files in a steered MD calculation.(`outputAccumulatedWork``harmonic`context) Write the accumulated work to the trajectory file**Acceptable Values:**boolean**Default Value:**`off`**Description:**If this option is chosen and`colvarsTrajFrequency`is not zero, the accumulated work from the beginning of the simulation will be written to the trajectory file. If the simulation has been continued from a previous state file, the previously accumulated work is included in the integral. This option allows to conveniently extract the PMF from the colvars trajectory files in a steered MD calculation.

**Note on restarting moving restraint simulations:** Information
about the current step and stage of a simulation with moving restraints
is stored in the restart file (state file). Thus, such simulations can
be run in several chunks, and restarted directly using the same colvars
configuration file. In case of a restart, the values of parameters such
as `targetCenters`, `targetNumSteps`, etc. should not be
changed manually.

Moving restraints: umbrella sampling

The centers of the harmonic restraints can also be changed in discrete stages: in this cases a one-dimensional umbrella sampling simulation is performed.
The sampling windows in simulation are calculated in sequence.
The colvars trajectory file may then be used both to evaluate the correlation times between consecutive windows, and to calculate the frequency distribution of the colvar of interest in each window.
Furthermore, frequency distributions on a predefined grid can be automatically obtained by using the `histogram` bias (see 10.5.4).

To activate an umbrella sampling simulation, the same keyords as in the previous section can be used, with the addition of the following:

(`targetNumStages``harmonic`context) Number of stages for steering**Acceptable Values:**non-negative integer**Default Value:**`0`**Description:**If non-zero, sets the number of stages in which the restraint centers or force constant are changed to their target values. If zero, the change is continuous. Each stage lasts`targetNumSteps`MD steps. To sample both ends of the transformation, the simulation should be run for`targetNumSteps`(`targetNumStages`+ 1).

Changing force constant

The force constant of the harmonic restraint may also be changed to equilibrate [21].

(`targetForceConstant``harmonic`context) Change the force constant towards this value**Acceptable Values:**positive decimal**Description:**When defined, the current`forceConstant`will be moved towards this value during the simulation. Time evolution of the force constant is dictated by the`targetForceExponent`parameter (see below). By default, the force constant is changed smoothly over a total of`targetNumSteps`steps. This is useful to introduce or remove restraints in a progressive manner. If`targetNumStages`is set to a nonzero value, the change is performed in discrete stages, lasting`targetNumSteps`steps*each*. This second mode may be used to compute the conformational free energy change associated with the restraint, within the FEP or TI formalisms. For convenience, the code provides an estimate of the free energy derivative for use in TI. A more complete free energy calculation (particularly with regard to convergence analysis), while not handled by the colvars module, can be performed by post-processing the colvars trajectory, if`colvarsTrajFrequency`is set to a suitably small value. It should be noted, however, that restraint free energy calculations may be handled more efficiently by an indirect route, through the determination of a PMF for the restrained coordinate.[21](Exponent in the time-dependence of the force constant context) decimal equal to or greater than 1.0`targetForceExponent`**Acceptable Values:**`1.0`**Default Value:**Sets the exponent, , in the function used to vary the force constant as a function of time. The force is varied according to a coupling parameter , raised to the power : , where , , and are the initial, current, and final values of the force constant. The parameter evolves linearly from 0 to 1, either smoothly, or in`targetNumStages`equally spaced discrete stages, or according to an arbitrary schedule set with`lambdaSchedule`. When the initial value of the force constant is zero, an exponent greater than 1.0 distributes the effects of introducing the restraint more smoothly over time than a linear dependence, and ensures that there is no singularity in the derivative of the restraint free energy with respect to lambda. A value of 4 has been found to give good results in some tests.**Description:**(`targetEquilSteps``harmonic`context) Number of steps discarded from TI estimate**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Description:**Defines the number of steps within each stage that are considered equilibration and discarded from the restraint free energy derivative estimate reported reported in the output.(`lambdaSchedule``harmonic`context) Schedule of lambda-points for changing force constant**Acceptable Values:**list of real numbers between 0 and 1**Description:**If specified together with targetForceConstant, sets the sequence of discrete values that will be used for different stages.

Multidimensional histograms

The `histogram` feature is used to record the distribution of a set of collective
variables in the form of a N-dimensional histogram.
It functions as a ``collective variable bias'', and is invoked by adding a
`histogram` block to the *colvars* configuration file.

In addition to the common parameters `name` and `colvars`
described above, a `histogram` block may define the following parameter:

(`outputFreq``histogram`context) Frequency (in timesteps) at which the histogram file is refreshed**Acceptable Values:**positive integer**Default Value:**Colvar module restart frequency**Description:**The file containing histogram data is written on disk at the given time interval.

Like the ABF and metadynamics biases, `histogram` uses
parameters from the colvars to define its grid. The grid ranges from
`lowerBoundary` to `upperBoundary`, and the bin width is
set by the `width` parameter.