The Monte Carlo method is frequently used to simulate light transport in turbid media because of its simplicity and flexibility, allowing to analyze complicated geometrical structures. Monte Carlo simulations are, however, time consuming because of the necessity to track the paths of individual photons. The time consuming computation is mainly associated with the calculation of the logarithmic and trigonometric functions as well as the generation of pseudo-random numbers. In this paper, the Monte Carlo algorithm was developed and optimized, by approximation of the logarithmic and trigonometric functions. The approximations were based on polynomial and rational functions, and the errors of these approximations are less than 1% of the values of the original functions. The proposed algorithm was verified by simulations of the time-resolved reflectance at several source-detector separations. The results of the calculation using the approximated algorithm were compared with those of the Monte Carlo simulations obtained with an exact computation of the logarithm and trigonometric functions as well as with the solution of the diffusion equation. The errors of the moments of the simulated distributions of times of flight of photons (total number of photons, mean time of flight and variance) are less than 2% for a range of optical properties, typical of living tissues. The proposed approximated algorithm allows to speed up the Monte Carlo simulations by a factor of 4. The developed code can be used on parallel machines, allowing for further acceleration. © 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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