This book is one of the finest written on the subject and is suitable for readers in a wide variety of fields, including mathematical finance, random dynamical systems, constructive quantum field theory, and mathematical biology. It is certainly well-suited for classroom use, and it includes computer exercises what are definitely helpful for those who need to develop actual computer code to solve the relevant equations of interest. Since it emphasizes the numerical solution of stochastic differential equations, the authors do not give the details behind the theory, but references are given for the interested reader.
As preparation for the study of SDEs, the authors detail some preliminary background on probability, statistics, and stochastic processes in Part 1 of the book. Particularly well-written is the discussion on random number generators and efficient methods for generating random numbers, such as the Box-Muller and Polar Marsaglia methods. Both discrete and continuous Markov processes are discussed, and the authors review the connection between Weiner processes (Brownian motion for the physicist reader) and white noise. The measure-theory foundations of the subject are outlined briefly for the interested reader.
Part 2 begins naturally with an overview of stochastic calculus, with the Ito calculus chosen to show how to generalize ordinary calculus to the stochastic realm. The authors motivate the subject as one in which the functional form of stochastic processes was emphasized, with Ito attempting to find out just when local properties such as the drift and diffusion coefficients can characterize the stochastic process. The Ito formula is shown to be a generalization of the chain rule of ordinary calculus to the case where stochasticity is present. The authors are also careful to distinguish between "random" differential equations and "stochastic" differential equations. The former can be solved by integrating over differentiable sample paths, but in the latter one has to face the nondifferentiability of the sample paths, and hence solutions are more difficult to obtain. The authors give many examples of SDEs that can be solved explicitly, and prove existence and uniqueness theorems for strong solutions of the SDEs. And since ordinary differential equations are usually tackled by Taylor series expansions, it is perhaps not surprising that this technique would be generalized to SDEs, which the authors do in detail in this part. They also outline the differences between the Ito and Stratonovich interpretations of stochastic integrals and SDEs.
Part 3 is definitely of great interest to those who must develop mathematical models using SDEs. The authors carefully outline the reasons where Ito versus the Stratonovich formulations are used, this being largely dependent on the degree of autocorrelation in the processes at hand. The Stratonovich SDE is recommended for cases when the white noise is used as an idealization of a (smooth) real noise process. The authors also show how to approximate Markov chain problems with diffusion processes, which are the solutions of Ito SDEs. Several very interesting examples are given of the applications of stochastic differential equations; the particular ones of direct interest to me were the ones on population dynamics, protein kinetics, and genetics; option pricing, and blood clotting dynamics/cellular energetics.
After a review of discrete time approzimations in ordinary deterministic differential equations, in part 4 the authors show to solve SDEs using this approximation. The familiar Euler approximation is considered, with a simple example having an explicit solution compared with its Euler approximate solution. They also show how to use simulations when an explicit solution is lacking. The importance notions of strong and weak convergence of the approximate solutions are discussed in detail. Strong convergence is basically a convergence in norm (absolute value), while weak convergence is taken with respect to a collection of test functions. Both of these types of convergence reduce to the ordinary deterministic sense of convergence when the random elements are removed.
The discussion of convergence in part 4 leads to a very extensive discussion of strongly convergent approximations in part 5, and weakly convergent approximations in part 6. Stochastic Taylor expansions done with respect to the strong convergence criterion are discussed, beginning with the Euler approximation. More complicated strongly convergent stochastic approximation schemes are also considered, such as the Milstein scheme, which reduces to the Euler scheme when the diffusion coefficients only depend on time. The strong Taylor schemes of all orders are treated in detail. Since Taylor approximations make evaluations of the derivatives necessary, which is computational intensive, the authors discuss strong approximation schemes that do not require this, much like the Runge-Kutta methods in the deterministic case , but the authors are careful to point out that the Runge-Kutta analogy is problematic in the stochastic case. Several of these "derivative-free" schemes are considered by the authors. The authors also consider implicit strong approximation schemes for stiff SDEs, wherein numerical instabilities are problematic. Interesting applications are given for strong approximations for SDEs, such as the Duffing-Van der Pol oscillator, which is very important system in engineering mechanics and phyics, and has been subjected to an incredible amount of research.
More detailed consideration of weak Taylor approximations is given in part 6. The Euler scheme is examined first in the weak approximation, with the higher-order schemes following. Since weak convergence is more stringent than strong convergence, it should come as no surprise that fewer terms are required to obtain convergence, as compared with strong convergence at the same order. This intuition is indeed verified in the discussion, and the authors treat both explicit and implicit weak approximations, along with extrapolation and predictor-corrector methods. And most importantly, the authors give an introduction to the Girsanov methods for variance reduction of weak approximations to Ito diffusions, along with other techniques for doing the same. Those readers involved in constructive quantum field theory will value the treatment on using weak approximations to calculate functional integrals. The approximation of Lyapunov exponents for stochastic dynamical systems is also treated, along with the approximation of invariant measures.