Date of Award

2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

Advisor

Susan R. McKay

Second Committee Member

Kenneth R. Brownstein

Third Committee Member

Richard A. Morrow

Abstract

This thesis describes the development of analytical and computational techniques for systems far from equilibrium and their application to three model systems. Each of the model systems reaches a non-equilibrium steady state and exhibits one or more phase transitions. We first introduce a new position-space renormalization-group approach and illustrate its application using the one-dimensional fully asymmetric exclusion process. We have constructed a recursion relation for the relevant dynamic parameters for this model and have reproduced all of the important critical features of the model, including the exact positions of the critical point and the first and second order phase boundaries. The method yields an approximate value for the critical exponent v which is very close to the known value. The second major part of this thesis combines information theoretic techniques for calculating the entropy and a Monte Carlo renormalization-group approach. We have used this method to study and compare infinitely driven lattice gases. This approach enables us to calculate the critical exponents associated with the correlation length v and the order parameter /3. These results are compared to the values predicted from different field theoretic treatments of the models. In the final set of calculations, we build position-space renormalization-group recursion relations from the master equations of small clusters. By obtaining the probability distributions for these clusters numerically, we develop a mapping connecting the parameters specifying the dynamics on different length scales. The resulting flow topology in some ways mimics equilibrium features, with sinks for each phase and fixed points associated with each phase boundary. In addition, though, there are added complexities in the flows, suggesting multiple regions within the ordered phase for some values of parameters, and the presence of an extra "source" fixed point within the ordered phase. Thus, this study illustrates the successful applicability of position-space renormalization- group and information theoretic approaches to driven lattice gases in one and two dimensions. These methods provide new insights into the critical properties and ordering in these systems, and set the stage for further development of these approaches and their application to additional, more realistic models.

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