A tale of two sandpiles



Lionel Levine

Monday, March 24, 2014
4:00pm 310 Gates Hall


A sandpile on a graph is an integer-valued function on the vertices. It evolves according to local moves called "topplings". Some sandpiles stabilize after a finite number of topplings, while others topple forever. For any sandpile s_0 if we repeatedly add a grain of sand at an independent random vertex, we eventually reach a sandpile s_\tau that topples forever. Statistical physicists Poghosyan, Poghosyan, Priezzhev and Ruelle conjectured a precise value for the expected amount of sand in this "threshold state" s_\tau in the limit as s_0 goes to negative infinity. I will outline the proof of this conjecture in http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.3283 and mention some algorithmic open questions.