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The Applications of Monte Carlo

Posted on September 07, 2017 0 Comments

Monte Carlo Integration

In order to calculate the following integral

we often adopt Monte Carlo technique

  1. Firstly, compute the volume $V$ of region $D$
  2. Secondly, sample $\mathbf x^{(1)}, \mathbf x^{(2)},\ldots, \mathbf x^{(m)}$ uniformly from region $D$
  3. Finally, approximate the integral by

According to law of large numbers, we have

and from central limit theorem,

where $\sigma^2 = var(g(\mathbf x))$

Importance Sampling

It is worthy noting that the above sampling is uniform. However, it is often difficult to produce uniform random samples in an arbitrary region $D$. To overcome this problem, we can adopt importance sampling in which one generates random samples $\mathbf x^{(1)}, \mathbf x^{(2)},\ldots, \mathbf x^{(m)}$ from a nonuniform distribution $\pi(\mathbf x)$ that puts more probability mass on important parts of the state space $D$. Then one can estimate integral $I$ as

Optimization Problem

Suppore we need to find the minimum of a target function $h(\mathbf x)$. The problem is equivalent to finding the maximum of another function, $q_T(\mathbf x)=exp(-h(\mathbf x)/T)$ (as long as $T>0$).

In the case when $q_T(\mathbf x)$ is integrable for all $T>0$, we can make up a family of probability distributions:

If we can sample from $\pi_T(\mathbf x)$ when $T$ is sufficiently small, resulting random draws will most likely be located in the vicinity of the global minimum of $h(\mathbf x)$. This consideration is the basis of the well-known simulated annealing algorithm and is also key to the tempering techniques for designing more efficient Monte Carlo algorithms.


Liu, Jun S. Monte Carlo strategies in scientific computing. Springer Science & Business Media, 2008.

Published in categories Monte Carlo