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J Math Psychol. 2006 Aug;50(4):402-410.

Evaluating methods for approximating stochastic differential equations.

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Department of Cognitive Science, University of California Irvine, CA 92697-5100, USA.


Models of decision making and response time (RT) are often formulated using stochastic differential equations (SDEs). Researchers often investigate these models using a simple Monte Carlo method based on Euler's method for solving ordinary differential equations. The accuracy of Euler's method is investigated and compared to the performance of more complex simulation methods. The more complex methods for solving SDEs yielded no improvement in accuracy over the Euler method. However, the matrix method proposed by Diederich and Busemeyer (2003) yielded significant improvements. The accuracy of all methods depended critically on the size of the approximating time step. The large (∼10 ms) step sizes often used by psychological researchers resulted in large and systematic errors in evaluating RT distributions.

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