Characteristic of Bennett's acceptance ratio method

Aljoscha M. Hahn, H Then

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


A powerful and well-established tool for free-energy estimation is Bennett’s acceptance ratio method. Central properties of this estimator, which employs samples of work values of a forward and its time-reversed process, are known: for given sets of measured work values, it results in the best estimate of the free-energy difference in the large sample limit. Here we state and prove a further characteristic of the acceptance ratio method: the convexity of its mean-square error. As a two-sided estimator, it depends on the ratio of the numbers of forward and reverse work values used. Convexity of its mean-square error immediately implies that there exists a unique optimal ratio for which the error becomes minimal. Further, it yields insight into the relation of the acceptance ratio method and estimators based on the Jarzynski equation. As an application, we study the performance of a dynamic strategy of sampling forward and reverse work values.
Translated title of the contributionCharacteristic of Bennett's acceptance ratio method
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)031111 - 031120
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Physical Society


  • free-energy calculations
  • Monte Carlo methods


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