Emergence of wave patterns on Kadanoff Sandpiles

Kévin Perrot, Eric Rémila

Emergence is a concept that is easy to exhibit, but very hard to formally handle. This paper is about cubic sand grains moving around on nicely packed columns in one dimension (the physical sandpile is two dimensional, but the support of sand columns is one dimensional). The Kadanoff Sandpile Model is a discrete dynamical system describing the evolution of a finite number of stacked grains --as they would fall from an hourglass-- to a stable configuration (fixed point). Grains move according to the repeated application of a simple local rule until reaching a fixed point. The main interest of the model relies in the difficulty of understanding its behavior, despite the simplicity of the rule. In this paper we prove the emergence of wave patterns periodically repeated on fixed points. Remarkably, those regular patterns do not cover the entire fixed point, but eventually emerge from a seemingly highly disordered segment. The proof technique we set up associates arguments of linear algebra and combinatorics, which interestingly allow to formally state the emergence of regular patterns without requiring a precise understanding of the chaotic initial segment's dynamic.

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