Universal Extremal Statistics in a Freely Expanding Jepsen Gas

Ioana Bena 1, Satya N. Majumdar 2

Physical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 75 (2007) 051103

We study the extremal dynamics emerging in an out-of-equilibrium one-dimensional Jepsen gas of $(N+1)$ hard-point particles. The particles undergo binary elastic collisions, but move ballistically in-between collisions. The gas is initally uniformly distributed in a box $[-L,0]$ with the 'leader' (or the rightmost particle) at X=0, and a random positive velocity, independently drawn from a distribution $\phi(V)$, is assigned to each particle. The gas expands freely at subsequent times. We compute analytically the distribution of the leader's velocity at time $t$, and also the mean and the variance of the number of collisions that are undergone by the leader up to time $t$. We show that in the thermodynamic limit and at fixed time $t\gg 1$ (the so-called 'growing regime'), when interactions are strongly manifest, the velocity distribution exhibits universal scaling behavior of only three possible varieties, depending on the tail of $\phi(V)$. The associated scaling functions are novel and different from the usual extreme-value distributions of uncorrelated random variables. In this growing regime the mean and the variance of the number of collisions of the leader up to time $t$ increase logarithmically with $t$, with universal prefactors that are computed exactly. The implications of our results in the context of biological evolution modeling are pointed out.

  • 1. Département de Physique Théorique,
    University of Geneva
  • 2. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud