Statistical mechanics approach to some problems in conformal geometry

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A weak law of large numbers is established for a sequence of systems of N classical point particles with logarithmic pair potential in Rn, or Sn, n∈N, which are distributed according to the configurational microcanonical measure δ(E-H), or rather some regularization thereof, where H is the configurational Hamiltonian and E the configurational energy. When N→∞ with non-extensive energy scaling E = N2ε, the particle positions become i.i.d, according to a self-consistent Boltzmann distribution, respectively a superposition of such distributions. The self-consistency condition in n dimensions is some nonlinear elliptic PDE of order n (pseudo-PDE if n is odd) with an exponential nonlinearity. When n = 2, this PDE is known in statistical mechanics as Poisson-Boltzmann equation, with applications to point vortices, 2D Coulomb and magnetized plasmas and gravitational systems. It is then also known in conformal differential geometry, where it is the central equation in Nirenberg's problem of prescribed Gaussian curvature. For constant Gauss curvature it becomes Liouville's equation, which also appears in two-dimensional so-called quantum Liouville gravity. The PDE for n = 4 is Paneitz' equation, and while it is not known in statistical mechanics, it originated from a study of the conformal invariance of Maxwell's electromagnetism and has made its appearance in some recent model of four-dimensional quantum gravity. In differential geometry, the Paneitz equation and its higher order n generalizations have applications in the conformal geometry of n-manifolds, but no physical applications yet for general n. Interestingly, though, all the Paneitz equations have an interpretation in terms of statistical mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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