Abstract

We examine the relative error of Monte Carlo simulations of radiative transport that employ two commonly used estimators that account for absorption differently, either discretely, at interaction points, or continuously, between interaction points. We provide a rigorous derivation of these discrete and continuous absorption weighting estimators within a stochastic model that we show to be equivalent to an analytic model, based on the radiative transport equation (RTE). We establish that both absorption weighting estimators are unbiased and, therefore, converge to the solution of the RTE. An analysis of spatially resolved reflectance predictions provided by these two estimators reveals no advantage to either in cases of highly scattering and highly anisotropic media. However, for moderate to highly absorbing media or isotropically scattering media, the discrete estimator provides smaller errors at proximal source locations while the continuous estimator provides smaller errors at distal locations. The origin of these differing variance characteristics can be understood through examination of the distribution of exiting photon weights.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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