## 65C05 Monte Carlo methods

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Applications of the cross-entropy method to importance sampling and optimal control of diffusions
(2014)

We study the cross-entropy method for diffusions. One of the results is a versatile cross-entropy algorithm that can be used to design efficient importance sampling strategies for rare events or to solve optimal control problems. The approach is based on the minimization of a suitable cross-entropy functional, with a parametric family of exponentially tilted probability distributions. We illustrate the new algorithm with several numerical examples and discuss algorithmic issues and possible extensions of the method.

The understanding of geometric structures and dynamical properties of molecular conformations gives insight into molecular long-term behavior. The identification of metastable conformations together with their life times and transition patterns is the intention of conformation dynamics. Conformation dynamics is a multi-scale approach that leads to a reduced description of the dynamical system in terms of a stochastic transition probability matrix. The present thesis deals with the error analysis of computed matrices and the resulting matrix functions. Since conformational membership vectors, as they are computed by the Robust Perron Cluster Analysis (PCCA+), form an invariant subspace of the transition matrix, subspace-based error estimators are of particular interest. The decomposition of the state space into basis functions and the approximation of integrals by Monte-Carlo quadrature give rise to row-wise correlated random matrices, for which stochastic norms are computed. Together with an appropriate statistical model for the distribution of matrix rows, this allows for the calculation of error bounds and error distributions of the invariant subspace and other variables of interest. Equilibration of errors among the basis functions can be achieved by enhanced sampling in regions where the trajectories are mixing slowly. Hierarchical refinement of such basis functions systematically improves the clustering into metastable conformations by reducing the error in the corresponding invariant subspace. These techniques allow for an evaluation of simulation results and pave the way for the analysis of larger molecules. Moreover, the extension of PCCA+ to non-reversible Markov chains, verified by the corresponding perturbation theory, and the modification of the objective function for the case of soft membership vectors represent a further generalization of the clustering method, thus continuing the development from PCCA over PCCA+ to PCCA++. The methods developed in this thesis are useful for but not limited to conformation dynamics. In fact, they are applicable to a broader class of problems which combine domain decomposition with Monte-Carlo quadrature. Possible application areas may include the chemical master equation or quantum dynamical systems.

In order to compute the thermodynamic weights of the different metastable conformations of a molecule, we want to approximate the molecule's Boltzmann distribution in a reasonable time. This is an essential issue in computational drug design. The energy landscape of active biomolecules is generally very rough with a lot of high barriers and low regions. Many of the algorithms that perform such samplings (e.g. the hybrid Monte Carlo method) have difficulties with such landscapes. They are trapped in low-energy regions for a very long time and cannot overcome high barriers. Moving from one low-energy region to another is a very rare event. For these reasons, the distribution of the generated sampling points converges very slowly against the thermodynamically correct distribution of the molecule. The idea of ConfJump is to use $a~priori$ knowledge of the localization of low-energy regions to enhance the sampling with artificial jumps between these low-energy regions. The artificial jumps are combined with the hybrid Monte Carlo method. This allows the computation of some dynamical properties of the molecule. In ConfJump, the detailed balance condition is satisfied and the mathematically correct molecular distribution is sampled.

The paper surveys recent progress in the mathematical modelling and simulation of essential molecular dynamics. Particular emphasis is put on computational drug design wherein time scales of $msec$ up to $min$ play the dominant role. Classical long-term molecular dynamics computations, however, would run into ill-conditioned initial value problems already after time spans of only $psec=10^{-12} sec$. Therefore, in order to obtain results for times of pharmaceutical interest, a combined deterministic-stochastic model is needed. The concept advocated in this paper is the direct identification of metastable conformations together with their life times and their transition patterns. It can be interpreted as a {\em transfer operator} approach corresponding to some underlying hybrid Monte Carlo process, wherein short-term trajectories enter. Once this operator has been discretized, which is a hard problem of its own, a stochastic matrix arises. This matrix is then treated by {\em Perron cluster analysis}, a recently developed cluster analysis method involving the numerical solution of an eigenproblem for a Perron cluster of eigenvalues. In order to avoid the 'curse of dimension', the construction of appropriate boxes for the spatial discretization of the Markov operator requires careful consideration. As a biomolecular example we present a rather recent SARS protease inhibitor.

Computational drug design studies molecular recognition in the {\em virtual lab}. The arising Hamiltonian dynamics is known to be chaotic and ill-conditioned already after picoseconds, whereas times are $msec$ up to $min$. Classical molecular dynamics with long term trajectory computation gives, at best, information about time and statistical ensemble averages. The present paper surveys a recent new modeling approach called {\em conformational dynamics}, which is due to the author and Ch. Schütte. This approach achieves information about the dy time scales by telescoping a short term deterministic model with a statistical model. Examples of small biomolecules are included.

Uncoupling-coupling Monte Carlo (UCMC) combines uncoupling techniques for finite Markov chains with Markov chain Monte Carlo methodology. UCMC aims at avoiding the typical metastable or trapping behavior of Monte Carlo techniques. From the viewpoint of Monte Carlo, a slowly converging long-time Markov chain is replaced by a limited number of rapidly mixing short-time ones. Therefore, the state space of the chain has to be hierarchically decomposed into its metastable conformations. This is done by means of combining the technique of conformation analysis as recently introduced by the authors, and appropriate annealing strategies. We present a detailed examination of the uncoupling-coupling procedure which uncovers its theoretical background, and illustrates the hierarchical algorithmic approach. Furthermore, application of the UCMC algorithm to the $n$-pentane molecule allows us to discuss the effect of its crucial steps in a typical molecular scenario.

Uncoupling-coupling Monte Carlo (UCMC) combines uncoupling techniques for finite Markov chains with Markov chain Monte Carlo methodology. By determining almost invariant sets of the associated Markov operator, the Monte Carlo sampling splits by a hierarchical annealing process into the essential regions of the state space; therefore UCMC aims at avoiding the typical metastable behavior of Monte Carlo techniques. From the viewpoint of Monte Carlo, a slowly converging long-time Markov chain is replaced by a limited number of rapidly mixing short-time ones. The correct weighting factors for the various Markov chains are obtained via a coupling matrix, that connects the samplings from the different almost invariant sets. The underlying mathematical structure of this approach is given by a general examination of the uncoupling-coupling procedure. Furthermore, the overall algorithmic scheme of UCMC is applied to the $n$-pentane molecule, a well-known example from molecular dynamics.

This series of lectures has been given to a class of mathematics postdocs at a European summer school on Computational Mathematics Driven by Industrial Applications in Martina Franca, Italy (organized by CIME). It deals with a variety of challenging real life problems selected from clinical cancer therapy, communication technology, polymer production, and pharmaceutical drug design. All of these problems from rather diverse application areas share two common features: (a) they have been modelled by various differential equations -- elliptic, parabolic, or Schrödinger--type partial differential equations, countable ordinary diffential equations, or Hamiltonian systems, (b) their numerical solution has turned out to be real challenge to computational mathematics.

The function of many important biomolecules comes from their dynamic properties and their ability to switch between different {\em conformations}. In a conformation, the large scale geometric structure of the molecule is understood to be conserved, whereas on smaller scales the system may well rotate, oscillate or fluctuate. In a recent article [J. Comp. Phys., 151,1 (1999)], the present author and coworkers demonstrated that (a) conformations can be understood as almost invariant sets of some Markov chain being defined via the Hamiltonian system governing the molecular dynamics and that (b) these sets can efficiently be computed via eigenvectors of the corresponding Markov operator. The persent manuscript reviews the mathematical modelling steps behind the novel concept, includes a rigorous analytical justification of this approach and especially of the numerical details of the algorithm, and illustrates its performance when applied to realistic molecular systems.

Recently, a novel concept for the computation of essential features of the dynamics of Hamiltonian systems (such as molecular dynamics) has been proposed. The realization of this concept had been based on subdivision techniques applied to the Frobenius--Perron operator for the dynamical system. The present paper suggests an alternative but related concept that merges the conceptual advantages of the dynamical systems approach with the appropriate statistical physics framework. This approach allows to define the phrase ``conformation'' in terms of the dynamical behavior of the molecular system and to characterize the dynamical stability of conformations. In a first step, the frequency of conformational changes is characterized in statistical terms leading to the definition of some Markov operator $T$ that describes the corresponding transition probabilities within the canonical ensemble. In a second step, a discretization of $T$ via specific hybrid Monte Carlo techniques is shown to lead to a stochastic matrix $P$. With these theoretical preparations, an identification algorithm for conformations is applicable. It is demonstrated that the discretization of $T$ can be restricted to few essential degrees of freedom so that the combinatorial explosion of discretization boxes is prevented and biomolecular systems can be attacked. Numerical results for the n-pentane molecule and the triribonucleotide adenylyl\emph{(3'-5')}cytidylyl\emph{(3'-5')}cytidin are given and interpreted.