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The Backtracking Dynamical Cavity Method

Publication at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics |


The cavity method is one of the cornerstones of the statistical physics of disordered systems such as spin glasses and other complex systems. It is able to analytically and asymptotically exactly describe the equilibrium properties of a broad range of models.

Exact solutions for dynamical, out-of-equilibrium properties of disordered systems are traditionally much harder to obtain. Even very basic questions such as the limiting energy of a fast quench are so far open.

The dynamical cavity method partly fills this gap by considering short trajectories and leveraging the static cavity method. However, being limited to a couple of steps forward from the initialization, it typically does not capture dynamical properties related to attractors of the dynamics.

We introduce the backtracking dynamical cavity method that instead of analyzing the trajectory forward from initialization, it analyzes the trajectories that are found by tracking them backward from attractors. We illustrate that this rather elementary twist on the dynamical cavity method leads to new insight into some of the very basic questions about the dynamics of complex disordered systems.

This method is as versatile as the cavity method itself, and we hence anticipate that our paper will open many avenues for future research of dynamical, out-of-equilibrium properties in complex systems.