Stochastic simulation of chemical kinetics

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2007;58:35-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physchem.58.032806.104637.


Stochastic chemical kinetics describes the time evolution of a well-stirred chemically reacting system in a way that takes into account the fact that molecules come in whole numbers and exhibit some degree of randomness in their dynamical behavior. Researchers are increasingly using this approach to chemical kinetics in the analysis of cellular systems in biology, where the small molecular populations of only a few reactant species can lead to deviations from the predictions of the deterministic differential equations of classical chemical kinetics. After reviewing the supporting theory of stochastic chemical kinetics, I discuss some recent advances in methods for using that theory to make numerical simulations. These include improvements to the exact stochastic simulation algorithm (SSA) and the approximate explicit tau-leaping procedure, as well as the development of two approximate strategies for simulating systems that are dynamically stiff: implicit tau-leaping and the slow-scale SSA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Computer Simulation
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Stochastic Processes