Time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) holds great promise for studying photochemistry because of its affordable cost for large systems and for repeated calculations as required for direct dynamics. The chief obstacle is uncertain accuracy. There have been many validation studies, but there are also many formulations, and there have been few studies where several formulations were applied systematically to the same problems. Another issue, when TDDFT is applied with only a single exchange-correlation functional, is that errors in the functional may mask successes or failures of the formulation. Here, to try to sort out some of the issues, we apply eight formulations of adiabatic TDDFT to the first valence excitations of ten molecules with 18 density functionals of diverse types. The formulations examined are linear response from the ground state (LR-TDDFT), linear response from the ground state with the Tamm-Dancoff approximation (TDDFT-TDA), the original collinear spin-flip approximation with the Tamm-Dancoff (TD) approximation (SF1-TDDFT-TDA), the original noncollinear spin-flip approximation with the TDA approximation (SF1-NC-TDDFT-TDA), combined self-consistent-field (SCF) and collinear spin-flip calculations in the original spin-projected form (SF2-TDDFT-TDA) or non-spin-projected (NSF2-TDDFT-TDA), and combined SCF and noncollinear spin-flip calculations (SF2-NC-TDDFT-TDA and NSF2-NC-TDDFT-TDA). Comparing LR-TDDFT to TDDFT-TDA, we observed that the excitation energy is raised by the TDA; this brings the excitation energies underestimated by full linear response closer to experiment, but sometimes it makes the results worse. For ethylene and butadiene, the excitation energies are underestimated by LR-TDDFT, and the error becomes smaller making the TDA. Neither SF1-TDDFT-TDA nor SF2-TDDFT-TDA provides a lower mean unsigned error than LR-TDDFT or TDDFT-TDA. The comparison between collinear and noncollinear kernels shows that the noncollinear kernel drastically reduces the spin contamination in the systems considered here, and it makes the results more accurate than collinear spin-flip TDDFT for functionals with a low percentage of Hartree-Fock exchange and sometimes for functionals with a higher percentage of Hartree-Fock exchange, but it yields less accurate results than ground-state TDDFT.
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