The Range of a Simple Random Walk on $\mathbb{Z}$: An Elementary Combinatorial Approach

Bernhard A. Moser

Abstract


Two different elementary approaches for deriving an explicit formula for the distribution of the range of a simple random walk on $\mathbb{Z}$ of length $n$ are presented. Both of them rely on Hermann Weyl's discrepancy norm, which equals the maximal partial sum of the elements of a sequence. By this the original combinatorial problem on $\mathbb{Z}$ can be turned into a known path-enumeration problem on a bounded lattice. The solution is provided by means of the adjacency matrix $\mathbf Q_d$ of the walk on a bounded lattice $(0,1,\ldots,d)$. The second approach is algebraic in nature, and starts with the adjacency matrix $\mathbf{Q_d}$. The powers of the adjacency matrix are expanded in terms of products of non-commutative left and right shift matrices. The representation of such products by means of the discrepancy norm reveals the solution directly.


Keywords


random walk, discrepancy norm, lattice path enumeration

Full Text:

PDF