We propose a free-energy-based Monte Carlo method to measure the volume of potential-energy basins in configuration space. Using this approach we can estimate the number of distinct potential-energy minima, even when this number is much too large to be sampled directly. We validate our approach by comparing our results with the direct enumeration of distinct jammed states in small packings of frictionless spheres. We find that the entropy of distinct packings is extensive and that the entropy of distinct hard-sphere packings must have a maximum as a function of packing fraction.

Phys. Rev. Lett.

Xu, N., Frenkel, D., & Liu, A. J. (2011). Direct determination of the size of basins of attraction of jammed solids. Phys.Rev.Lett., 106(Article number: 245502), 1–4. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.245502