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Exploring first-order phase transitions with population annealing

European Physical Journal. Special Topics. 2017. Vol. 226. No. 4. P. 595-604.
Barash L. Yu., Weigel M., Shchur L.N., Janke W.

Population annealing is a hybrid of sequential and Markov chain Monte Carlo methods geared towards the efficient parallel simulation of systems with complex free-energy landscapes. Systems with first-order phase transitions are among the problems in computational physics that are difficult to tackle with standard methods such as local-update simulations in the canonical ensemble, for example with the Metropolis algorithm. It is hence interesting to see whether such transitions can be more easily studied using population annealing. We report here our preliminary observations from population annealing runs for the two-dimensional Potts model with q > 4, where it undergoes a first-order transition.