We present a detailed comparison of two high-fidelity approaches for simulating non-equilibrium chemical processes in gases: The state-to-state master equation (StS-ME) and the direct molecular simulation (DMS) methods. The former is a deterministic method, which relies on the pre-computed kinetic database for the N2-N system based on the NASA Ames ab initio potential energy surface (PES) to describe the evolution of the molecules' internal energy states through a system of master equations. The latter is a stochastic interpretation of molecular dynamics relying exclusively on the same ab initio PES. It directly tracks the microscopic gas state through a particle ensemble undergoing a sequence of collisions. We study a mixture of nitrogen molecules and atoms forced into strong thermochemical non-equilibrium by sudden exposure of rovibrationally cold gas to a high-temperature heat bath. We observe excellent agreement between the DMS and StS-ME predictions for the transfer rates of translational into rotational and vibrational energy, as well as of dissociation rates across a wide range of temperatures. Both methods agree down to the microscopic scale, where they predict the same non-Boltzmann population distributions during quasi-steady-state dissociation. Beyond establishing the equivalence of both methods, this cross-validation helped in reinterpreting the NASA Ames kinetic database and resolve discrepancies observed in prior studies. The close agreement found between the StS-ME and DMS methods, whose sole model inputs are the PESs, lends confidence to their use as benchmark tools for studying high-temperature air chemistry.
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