Journal article Open Access

Marshall Rosenbluth and the Metropolis algorithm

Gubernatis, J. E.

The 1953 publication, "Equation of State Calculations by Very Fast Computing Machines" by N. Metropolis, A. W. Rosenbluth and M. N. Rosenbluth, and M. Teller and E. Teller [J. Chem. Phys. 21, 1087 (1953)] marked the beginning of the use of the Monte Carlo method for solving problems in the physical sciences. The method described in this publication subsequently became known as the Metropolis algorithm, undoubtedly the most famous and most widely used Monte Carlo algorithm ever published. As none of the authors made subsequent use of the algorithm, they became unknown to the large simulation physics community that grew from this publication and their roles in its development became the subject of mystery and legend. At a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1953 publication, Marshall Rosenbluth gave his recollections of the algorithm's development. The present paper describes the algorithm, reconstructs the historical context in which it was developed, and summarizes Marshall's recollections.

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