Thursday, April 4, 2013

1304.0965 (Claudio Borile et al.)

The effect of quenched disorder in neutral theories    [PDF]

Claudio Borile, Amos Maritan, Miguel A. Muñoz
We study systems with two symmetric absorbing states, such as the voter model and variations of it, which have been broadly used as minimal neutral models in genetics, population ecology, sociology, etc. We analyze the effects of a key ingredient ineluctably present in most real applications: random-field-like quenched disorder. In accord with simulations and previous findings, coexistence between the two competing states/opinions turns out to be strongly favored by disorder in the standard voter model; actually, a disorder-induced phase transition is generated for any finite system size in the presence of an arbitrary small spontaneous-inversion rate (preventing absorbing states from being stable). For non-linear versions of the voter model a general theory (by AlHammal et al.) explains that the spontaneous breaking of the up/down symmetry and an absorbing state phase transition can occur either together or separately, giving raise to two different scenarios. Here, we show that he presence of quenched disorder in non-linear voter models does not allow the separation of the up-down (Ising-like) symmetry breaking from the active-to-absorbing phase transition in low-dimensional systems: both phenomena can occur only simultaneously, as a consequence of the well-known Imry-Ma argument generalized to these non-equilibrium problems. When the two phenomena occur at unison, resulting into a genuinely non-equilibrium ("Generalized Voter") transition, the Imry-Ma argument is violated and the symmetry can be spontaneously broken even in low dimensions.
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