Network Theory and Discrete Calculus – The Discrete Master Equation
This post is a follow up to
To give the result first, the master equation can be expressed in terms of discrete calculus simply as
where is a discrete 0-form representing the states of a Markov chain (at all times), is a discrete 1-form representing transition probabilities, and is the boundary operator, i.e. a kind of graph divergence.
The rest of this post explains the terms in this discrete master equation and how it works.
The State-Time Graph
When working with a finite (or countable) number of states, there is nothing new in considering states to be associated to nodes and the transition probabilities to be associated to directed edges of a bi-directed graph. A simple 2-state example is given below
The directed graphs we work with for discrete stochastic calculus are slightly different and could be referred to as “state-time” graphs, which are supposed to make you think of “space-time”. A state at time is considered a different node than the state at time . An example 2-state, 2-time directed graph is illustrated below:
There are four directed edges in this state-time graph, which will be labelled
For states, the state-time graph will look similar but with more states appended horizontally.
The Discrete Master Equation
A discrete 0-form representing the states at all times can be expressed as
and a discrete 1-form representing the transition probabilities can be expressed as
The product of the 0-form and the 1-form is given by
The boundary of a directed edge is given by
Now for some gymnastics, we can compute
This is zero only when the last term in brackets is zero, i.e.
Since is right stochastic, we have
In other words, when is right stochastic and , we get the usual master equation from stochastic mechanics
The master equation is a boundary. This makes me wonder about homology, gauge transformations, sources, etc. For example, since
does this imply
for some discrete 2-form ?
If is a discrete 2-form whose boundary does not vanish, then
gives the same dynamics because This would be a kind of gauge transformation.
There are several directions to take this from here, but that is about all the energy I have for now. More to come…