A low-rank technique for computing the quasi stationary distribution of Galton-Watson processes – Stefano Massei (EPFL)


Place: Sala Seminari Ovest, Dipartimento di Informatica. Branching processes describe the dynamics of a population of individuals which reproduce and die independently, according to some specific probability distributions. More precisely, we assume that any individual has a unit lifetime, at the end of which it might give birth to one or more offsprings simultaneously. This is encoded into the probability generating function P(z):=\sum p_j z^j where p_j is the probability of generating j individuals. These kind of processes are known in the literature as Galton-Watson processes. We consider populations that are certain to become extinct, yet appear to be stationary over any reasonable time scale. More precisely, we are interested in characterizing the quasi-stationary distribution of the process, i.e., the asymptotic distribution of the population size, conditional on its survival. Yaglom proved that if m:=P'(1)1. We see that the discretization of (*) leads to a numerical method that is capable to find arbitrary accurate approximations of the coefficients of G(z). Moreover, we point out the (numerical) low-rank structure that appears in the discretized problem, and we show how to exploit it in the proposed procedure.

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