Thursday, May 30, 2013

1305.6623 (Oded Farago et al.)

Langevin dynamics in inhomogeneous media: Revisiting the
Itô-Stratonovich Dilemma

Oded Farago, Niels Grønbech-Jensen
The diffusive dynamics of a particle in a medium with space-dependent friction coefficient is studied within the framework of the inertial Langevin equation. In this description, the ambiguous interpretation of the stochastic integral, known as the It\^{o}-Stratonovich dilemma, is avoided since all interpretations converge to the same solution in the limit of small time steps. We use a newly developed method for Langevin simulations to measure the probability distribution of a particle diffusing in a flat potential. Our results reveal that both the It\^{o} and Stratonovich interpretations converge very slowly to the uniform equilibrium distribution for vanishing time step sizes. Three other conventions exhibit significantly improved accuracy: (i) the "isothermal" (H\"{a}nggi) convention, (ii) the Stratonovich convention corrected by a drift term, and (iii) a new convention employing two different effective friction coefficients representing two different averages of the friction function during the time step. We argue that the most physically accurate dynamical description is provided by the third convention, in which the particle experiences a drift originating from the dissipation instead of the fluctuation term. This feature is directly related to the fact that the drift is a result of an inertial effect that cannot be well understood in the Brownian, overdamped limit of the Langevin equation.
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