Density functional theory (DFT) is a powerful theoretical tool widely used in such diverse fields as computational condensed-matter physics, atomic physics and quantum chemistry. DFT establishes that a system of
interacting electrons can be described uniquely by its single-particle density
, instead of the
-body wave function, yielding an enormous gain in terms of computational speed and memory storage space. Here, we use time-dependent DFT to show that a classical collisionless plasma can always, in principle, be described by a set of fluid equations for the single-particle density and current. The results of DFT guarantee that an exact closure relation, fully reproducing the Vlasov dynamics, necessarily exists, although it may be complicated (non-local in space and time, for instance) and difficult to obtain in practice. This goes against the common wisdom in plasma physics that the Vlasov and fluid descriptions are mutually incompatible, with the latter inevitably missing some ‘purely kinetic’ effects.