Inertial stochastic dynamics. I. Long-time-step methods for Langevin dynamics

Daniel A. Beard, Tamar Schlick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two algorithms are presented for integrating the Langevin dynamics equation with long numerical time steps while treating the mass terms as finite. The development of these methods is motivated by the need for accurate methods for simulating slow processes in polymer systems such as two-site intermolecular distances in supercoiled DNA, which evolve over the time scale of milliseconds. Our new approaches refine the common Brownian dynamics (BD) scheme, which approximates the Langevin equation in the highly damped diffusive limit. Our LTID ("long-time-step inertial dynamics") method is based on an eigenmode decomposition of the friction tensor. The less costly integrator IBD ("inertial Brownian dynamics") modifies the usual BD algorithm by the addition of a mass-dependent correction term. To validate the methods, we evaluate the accuracy of LTID and IBD and compare their behavior to that of BD for the simple example of a harmonic oscillator. We find that the LTID method produces the expected correlation structure for Langevin dynamics regardless of the level of damping. In fact, LTID is the only consistent method among the three, with error vanishing as the time step approaches zero. In contrast, BD is accurate only for highly overdamped systems. For cases of moderate overdamping, and for the appropriate choice of time step, IBD is significantly more accurate than BD. IBD is also less computationally expensive than LTID (though both are the same order of complexity as BD), and thus can be applied to simulate systems of size and time scale ranges previously accessible to only the usual BD approach. Such simulations are discussed in our companion paper, for long DNA molecules modeled as wormlike chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7313-7322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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