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We present an extensive comparative study of ground-state densities and pair distribution functions for
electrons confined in two-dimensional parabolic quantum dots
over a broad range of coupling strength and electron number. We first use spin-density-functional theory
to determine spin densities that are compared with Diffusion Monte Carlo (DMC) data.
This accurate knowledge of one-body properties is then used to construct and
test a local approximation for the electron-pair correlations.
We find very satisfactory agreement between this local scheme and the
available DMC data, and provide a detailed picture of two-body correlations in
a coupling-strength regime preceding the formation of Wigner-like electron ordering.
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