Coarse-graining errors and numerical optimization using a relative entropy framework
The ability to generate accurate coarse-grained models from reference fully atomic (or otherwise “first-principles”) ones has become an important component in modeling the behavior of complex molecular systems with large length and time scales. We recently proposed a novel coarse-graining approach based upon variational minimization of a configuration-space functional called the relative entropy, Srel, that measures the information lost upon coarse-graining. Here, we develop a broad theoretical framework for this methodology and numerical strategies for its use in practical coarse-graining settings. In particular, we show that the relative entropy offers tight control over the errors due to coarse-graining in arbitrary microscopic properties, and suggests a systematic approach to reducing them. We also describe fundamental connections between this optimization methodology and other coarse-graining strategies like inverse Monte Carlo, force matching, energy matching, and variational mean-field theory. We suggest several new numerical approaches to its minimization that provide new coarse-graining strategies. Finally, we demonstrate the application of these theoretical considerations and algorithms to a simple, instructive system and characterize convergence and errors within the relative entropy framework.