98-632 Stephen Bigelis, Emilio N.M. Cirillo, Joel L. Lebowitz, Eugene R. Speer
Critical droplets in Metastable States of Probabilistic Cellular Automata (53K, LATeX) Oct 7, 98
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Abstract. We consider the problem of metastability in a probabilistic cellular automaton (PCA) with a parallel updating rule which is reversible with respect to a Gibbs measure. The dynamical rules contain two parameters $\beta$ and $h$ which resemble, but are not identical to, the inverse temperature and external magnetic field in a ferromagnetic Ising model; in particular, the phase diagram of the system has two stable phases when $\beta$ is large enough and $h$ is zero, and a unique phase when $h$ is nonzero. When the system evolves, at small positive values of $h$, from an initial state with all spins down, the PCA dynamics give rise to a transition from a metastable to a stable phase when a droplet of the favored $+$ phase inside the metastable $-$ phase reaches a critical size. We give heuristic arguments to estimate the critical size in the limit of zero ``temperature'' ($\beta\to\infty$), as well as estimates of the time required for the formation of such a droplet in a finite system. Monte Carlo simulations give results in good agreement with the theoretical predictions.

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