Chiral effective field theory offers a controlled and systematic expansion of the nuclear force.
The dynamics depend on a set of low energy constants (LECs) that can be determined from experimental
nucleon-nucleon scattering data. We have recently employed a mathematical optimization algorithm called
POUNDerS in order to optimize the chiral force parameters. At next-to-next-to-leading order (NNLO), the
resulting χ2/datum with respect to experimental two-nucleon scattering data is reduced by almost an
order of magnitude compared to previous efforts. In addition to presenting the details of our optimization
efforts I will present some results from ab initio and shell-model calculations in light- and medium-mass
isotopes using the POUNDerS-optimized NNLO interaction. It is interesting to see that we obtain the
leading-order nuclear physics using a leading-order force. This shows that there is room to systematically
improve the presently available chiral interactions.
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