Geometric and Combinatorial Aspects of NonEquilibrium Statistical Mechanics

Polettini, Matteo (2012) Geometric and Combinatorial Aspects of NonEquilibrium Statistical Mechanics, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Fisica, 24 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/4305.
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Non-Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics is a broad subject. Grossly speaking, it deals with systems which have not yet relaxed to an equilibrium state, or else with systems which are in a steady non-equilibrium state, or with more general situations. They are characterized by external forcing and internal fluxes, resulting in a net production of entropy which quantifies dissipation and the extent by which, by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, time-reversal invariance is broken. In this thesis we discuss some of the mathematical structures involved with generic discrete-state-space non-equilibrium systems, that we depict with networks in all analogous to electrical networks. We define suitable observables and derive their linear regime relationships, we discuss a duality between external and internal observables that reverses the role of the system and of the environment, we show that network observables serve as constraints for a derivation of the minimum entropy production principle. We dwell on deep combinatorial aspects regarding linear response determinants, which are related to spanning tree polynomials in graph theory, and we give a geometrical interpretation of observables in terms of Wilson loops of a connection and gauge degrees of freedom. We specialize the formalism to continuous-time Markov chains, we give a physical interpretation for observables in terms of locally detailed balanced rates, we prove many variants of the fluctuation theorem, and show that a well-known expression for the entropy production due to Schnakenberg descends from considerations of gauge invariance, where the gauge symmetry is related to the freedom in the choice of a prior probability distribution. As an additional topic of geometrical flavor related to continuous-time Markov chains, we discuss the Fisher-Rao geometry of nonequilibrium decay modes, showing that the Fisher matrix contains information about many aspects of non-equilibrium behavior, including non-equilibrium phase transitions and superposition of modes. We establish a sort of statistical equivalence principle and discuss the behavior of the Fisher matrix under time-reversal. To conclude, we propose that geometry and combinatorics might greatly increase our understanding of nonequilibrium phenomena.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Polettini, Matteo
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze matematiche, fisiche ed astronomiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics
Data di discussione
16 Marzo 2012

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