Exact Statistics of the Gap and Time Interval Between the First Two Maxima of Random Walks

Satya N. Majumdar 1, Philippe Mounaix 2, Gregory Schehr 1

Physical Review Letters 111 (2013) 070601

We investigate the statistics of the gap, G_n, between the two rightmost positions of a Markovian one-dimensional random walker (RW) after n time steps and of the duration, L_n, which separates the occurrence of these two extremal positions. The distribution of the jumps \eta_i's of the RW, f(\eta), is symmetric and its Fourier transform has the small k behavior 1-\hat{f}(k)\sim| k|^\mu with 0 < \mu \leq 2. We compute the joint probability density function (pdf) P_n(g,l) of G_n and L_n and show that, when n \to \infty, it approaches a limiting pdf p(g,l). The corresponding marginal pdf of the gap, p_{\rm gap}(g), is found to behave like p_{\rm gap}(g) \sim g^{-1 - \mu} for g \gg 1 and 0<\mu < 2. We show that the limiting marginal distribution of L_n, p_{\rm time}(l), has an algebraic tail p_{\rm time}(l) \sim l^{-\gamma(\mu)} for l \gg 1 with \gamma(1<\mu \leq 2) = 1 + 1/\mu, and \gamma(0<\mu<1) = 2. For l, g \gg 1 with fixed l g^{-\mu}, p(g,l) takes the scaling form p(g,l) \sim g^{-1-2\mu} \tilde p_\mu(l g^{-\mu}) where \tilde p_\mu(y) is a (\mu-dependent) scaling function. We also present numerical simulations which verify our analytic results.

  • 1 : Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS)
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 2 : Centre de Physique Théorique (CPHT)
    CNRS : UMR7644 – Polytechnique - X