As an example, consider a simple model for atomic sodium, Na. Neutral sodium has eleven electrons, with the weakest bound one being confined the \( 3s \) single-particle quantum numbers. The energy needed to remove an electron from neutral sodium is rather small, 5.1391 eV, a feature which pertains to all alkali metals. Having performed a Hartree-Fock calculation for neutral sodium would then allows us to compute the ionization energy by using the single-particle energy for the \( 3s \) states, namely \( \epsilon_{3s}^{\mathrm{HF}} \).

From these considerations, we see that Hartree-Fock theory allows us to make a connection between experimental observables (here ionization and affinity energies) and the underlying interactions between particles. In this sense, we are now linking the dynamics and structure of a many-body system with the laws of motion which govern the system. Our approach is a reductionistic one, meaning that we want to understand the laws of motion in terms of the particles or degrees of freedom which we believe are the fundamental ones. Our Slater determinant, being constructed as the product of various single-particle functions, follows this philosophy.