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Adaptive Sampling of Large Deviations

A Correction to this article was published on 11 September 2018

This article has been updated


We introduce and test an algorithm that adaptively estimates large deviation functions characterizing the fluctuations of additive functionals of Markov processes in the long-time limit. These functions play an important role for predicting the probability and pathways of rare events in stochastic processes, as well as for understanding the physics of nonequilibrium systems driven in steady states by external forces and reservoirs. The algorithm uses methods from risk-sensitive and feedback control to estimate from a single trajectory a new process, called the driven process, known to be efficient for importance sampling. Its advantages compared to other simulation techniques, such as splitting or cloning, are discussed and illustrated with simple equilibrium and nonequilibrium diffusion models.

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  • 11 September 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained an error. The authors would like to correct the error with this erratum.


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    See [6] for a treatment of diffusions with multiplicative noise.


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We are grateful to Florian Angeletti for useful discussions in the initial phase of this work. G.F. is supported by the Labex Bezout. H.T. was supported by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant Nos. 90322 and 96199) and Stellenbosch University (Project Funding for New Appointee). This research was also supported in part by the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) during a visit for participating in the program “Large deviation theory in statistical physics: Recent advances and future challenges” (Code: ICTS/Prog-ldt/2017/8).

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Correspondence to Hugo Touchette.

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Ferré, G., Touchette, H. Adaptive Sampling of Large Deviations. J Stat Phys 172, 1525–1544 (2018).

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  • Large deviations
  • Rare event simulation
  • Diffusions
  • Nonequilibrium processes