Noncommutative statistical mechanics: probability at the confluence

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Mathematics and Statistics


The asymmetric simple exclusion process (ASEP) is a fundamental mathematical construction in statistical mechanics that combines the notion of stochastic motion with a physical requirement that matter cannot coexist in the same location. As such, it has wide-ranging applications, from traffic and fluid flow to biological processes. However, recent advances, particularly the emerging parallelism between ASEP-type processes and well-known families of orthogonal polynomials, hint at a hidden probabilistic phenomenon that promises to greatly expand the applicability of the ASEP.

The key is in a common computational artifact, referred to as the matrix ansatz. In this project, we explore a new perspective on the ASEP, based on the relationship between its matrix ansatz and noncommutative infinite-dimensional phenomena. In this manner, we aim to transform the interface between the 'classical' and noncommutative probability theories, arrive at a more fundamental understanding of the ASEP, and open up innovative approaches to a long-standing open question of mathematical analysis, the free group factors isomorphism problem.


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