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Section: Research Program

Processes in random environment

In the course of developing a quantitative theory of stochastic homogenization of discrete elliptic equations, we have introduced new tools to quantify ergodicity in partial differential equations. These tools are however not limited to PDEs, and could also have an impact in other fields where an evolution takes place in a (possibly dynamic) random environment and an averaging process occurs. The goal is then to understand the asymptotics of the motion of the particle/process.

For a random walker in a random environment, the Kipnis-Varadhan theorem ensures that the expected squared-position of the random walker after time t is of order t (the prefactor depends on the homogenized coefficients). If instead of a random walk among random conductances we consider a particle with some initial velocity evolving in a random potential field according to the Newton law, the averaged squared-position at time t is expected to follow the scaling law t2, see [34]. This is called stochastic acceleration.

Similar questions arise when the medium is reactive (that is, when the potential is modified by the particle itself). The approach to equilibrium in such systems was observed numerically and explained theoretically, but not completely proven, in [40].

Another related and more general direction of research is the validity of universality principle of statistical physics, which states that the qualitative behavior of physical systems depend on the microscopic details of the system only through some large-scale variables (the thermodynamic variables). Therefore, it is a natural problem in the field of interacting particle systems to obtain the macroscopic laws of the relevant thermodynamical quantities, using an underlying microscopic dynamics, namely particles that move according to some prescribed stochastic law. Probabilistically speaking, these systems are continuous time Markov processes.