Abstract:
Understanding the spatiotemporal structure of most probable fluctuation pathways to rarely occurring states is a central problem in the study of noise-driven, nonequilibrium dynamical systems. When the underlying system does not possess detailed balance, the optimal fluctuation pathway to a particular state and relaxation pathway from that state may combine to form a looplike structure in the system phase space called a fluctuation loop. Here, fluctuation loops are studied in a linear circuit model consisting of coupled RC elements, where each element is driven by its own independent noise source. Using a stochastic Hamiltonian approach, we determine the optimal fluctuation pathways, and analytically construct corresponding fluctuation loops. To quantitatively characterize fluctuation loops, we study the time-dependent area tensor that is swept out by individual stochastic trajectories in the system phase space. At long times, the area tensor scales linearly with time, with a coefficient that precisely vanishes when the system satisfies detailed balance.
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