Multilevel Monte Carlo with Numerical Smoothing for Robust and Efficient Computation of Probabilities and Densities

Christian Bayer, Chiheb Ben Hammouda, Raúl Tempone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The multilevel Monte Carlo (MLMC) method is highly efficient for estimating expectations of a functional of a solution to a stochastic differential equation (SDE). However, MLMC estimators may be unstable and have a poor (noncanonical) complexity in the case of low regularity of the functional. To overcome this issue, we extend our previously introduced idea of numerical smoothing in [Quant. Finance, 23 (2023), pp. 209–227], in the context of deterministic quadrature methods to the MLMC setting. The numerical smoothing technique is based on root-finding methods combined with one-dimensional numerical integration with respect to a single well-chosen variable. This study is motivated by the computation of probabilities of events, pricing options with a discontinuous payoff, and density estimation problems for dynamics where the discretization of the underlying stochastic processes is necessary. The analysis and numerical experiments reveal that the numerical smoothing significantly improves the strong convergence and, consequently, the complexity and robustness (by making the kurtosis at deep levels bounded) of the MLMC method. In particular, we show that numerical smoothing enables recovering the MLMC complexities obtained for Lipschitz functionals due to the optimal variance decay rate when using the Euler–Maruyama scheme. For the Milstein scheme, numerical smoothing recovers the canonical MLMC complexity, even for the nonsmooth integrand mentioned above. Finally, our approach efficiently estimates univariate and multivariate density functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A1373-B330
Number of pages35
JournalSIAM Journal on Scientific Computing
Issue number3
Early online date3 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • multilevel Monte Carlo
  • numerical smoothing
  • probability/density estimation
  • option pricing
  • robustness
  • complexity


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