Global Optimization, the Gaussian Ensemble, and Universal Ensemble Equivalence
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Given a constrained minimization problem, under what conditions does there exist a related, unconstrained problem having the same minimum points? This basic question in global optimization motivates this paper, which answers it from the viewpoint of statistical mechanics. In this context, it reduces to the fundamental question of the equivalence and nonequivalence of ensembles, which is analyzed using the theory of large deviations and the theory of convex functions. In a 2000 paper appearing in the Journal of Statistical Physics, we gave necessary and sufficient conditions for ensemble equivalence and nonequivalence in terms of support and concavity properties of the microcanonical entropy. In later research we significantly extended those results by introducing a class of Gaussian ensembles, which are obtained from the canonical ensemble by adding an exponential factor involving a quadratic function of the Hamiltonian. The present paper is an overview of our work on this topic. Our most important discovery is that even when the microcanonical and canonical ensembles are not equivalent, one can often find a Gaussian ensemble that satisfies a strong form of equivalence with the microcanonical ensemble known as universal equivalence. When translated back into optimization theory, this implies that an unconstrained minimization problem involving a Lagrange multiplier and a quadratic penalty function has the same minimum points as the original constrained problem. The results on ensemble equivalence discussed in this paper are illustrated in the context of the Curie-eiss-Potts lattice-spin model.
M Costeniuc, RS Ellis, H Touchette, and B Turkington. "Global Optimization, the Gaussian Ensemble, and Universal Ensemble Equivalence" 2006
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/richard_ellis/11