The fractal nature of the Abelian Sandpile

Probability Seminar

Wesley Pegden (Carnegie Mellon University)

Thursday, January 11, 2018 -
3:15pm to 4:15pm
119 Physics

The Abelian Sandpile is a simple diffusion process on the integer lattice, in which configurations of chips disperse according to a simple rule: when a vertex has at least 4 chips, it can distribute one chip to each neighbor. Introduced in the statistical physics community in the 1980s, the Abelian sandpile exhibits striking fractal behavior which long resisted rigorous mathematical analysis (or even a plausible explanation). We now have a relatively robust mathematical understanding of this fractal nature of the sandpile, which involves surprising connections between integer superharmonic functions on the lattice, discrete tilings of the plane, and Apollonian circle packings. In this talk, we will survey our work in this area, and discuss avenues of current and future research.

Last updated: 2018/10/17 - 2:16pm