Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Carlo is due to the games of chance that are common in the gambling establishments
of Monte Carlo, in the Principality of Monaco. Ulam and his colleagues determined
that by using statistical sampling and performing the sampling repeatedly, they were
able to arrive at solutions to problems that would be impossible, or at a minimum,
very difficult by standard analytical methods. For the types of complex simulations
we are interested in performing in Chap. 8, this approach will be extremely useful. It
will require knowledge of a number of well known probability distributions and an
understanding of the use of random numbers. The probability distributions will be
used to describe the behavior of the uncertain events, and the random numbers will
become input for the functions generating sampling outcomes for the distributions.
8.3.1 Implementing Monte Carlo Simulation Methods
Now, let us consider the basics of Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) and how we will
implement them in Excel. MCS relies on sampling through the generation of random
events. The cell function which is absolutely essential to our discussion of MCS,
RAND() , is contained in the Math and Trig functions of Excel. In the following,
I present six steps that utilize the RAND() function to implement MCS models:
1. Uncertain events are modeled by sampling from the distribution of the possi-
ble outcomes for each uncertain event. A sample is the random selection of a
value(s) from a distribution of outcomes, where the distribution specifies the
outcomes that are possible and their related probabilities of occurrence. For
example, the random sampling of a coin toss is an experiment where a coin is
tossed a number of times (the sample size) and the distribution of the individual
coin outcomes is heads with a 50% probability and tails with a 50% probability.
Exhibit 8.1 shows the probability distribution for the fair (50% chance of head or
tail) coin toss. If I toss the coin and record the outcome , this value is referred to
as the resolution of an uncertain event —the coin toss. In a model where there
are many uncertain events and many uncertain outcomes are possible for each
event, the process is repeated for all relevant uncertain events and the resulting
values are then used as a fair (random) representation of the model’s behavior.
Thus, these resolved uncertain events tell us what the condition of the model is at
a point in time. Here is a simple example of how we can use sampling to provide
information about a distribution of unknown outcomes. Imagine a very large
bowl containing a distribution of one million colorful stones: 300,000 white,
300,000 blue, and 400,000 red. You, as an observer, do not know the number of
each colorful stone contained in the bowl. Your task is to try to determine what
the true distribution of colorful stones is in the very large bowl. Of course, we can
use the colors to represent other outcomes. For example, each color could rep-
resent one of the three weather conditions of the OLPS problem in the previous
chapter. We can physically perform the selection of a colorful stone by randomly
reaching into the bowl and selecting a stone, or we can use a convenient analogy.
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