Interaction energies, lattices, and designs

Dissertation Defense
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - 1:30pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Josiah Park – Georgia Tech – j.park@gatech.edu
Josiah Park

This thesis has four chapters. The first three concern the location of mass on spheres or projective space, to minimize energies. For the Columb potential on the unit sphere, this is a classical problem, related to arranging electrons to minimize their energy. Restricting our potentials to be polynomials in the squared distance between points, we show in the Chapter 1 that there exist discrete minimal energy distributions. In addition we pose a conjecture on discreteness of minimizers for another class of energies while showing these minimizers must have empty interior.

In Chapter 2, we discover that highly symmetric distributions of points minimize energies over probability measures for potentials which are completely monotonic up to some degree, guided by the work of H. Cohn and A. Kumar. We make conjectures about optima for a class of energies calculated by summing absolute values of inner products raised to a positive power. Through reformulation, these observations give rise to new mixed-volume inequalities and conjectures. Our numerical experiments also lead to discovery of a new highly symmetric complex projective design which we detail the construction for. In this chapter we also provide details on a computer assisted argument which shows optimality of the $600$-cell for such energies (via interval arithmetic).

In Chapter 3 we also investigate energies having minimizers with a small number of distinct inner products. We focus here on discrete energies, confirming that for small $p$ the repeated orthonormal basis minimizes the $\ell_p $-norm of the inner products out of all unit norm configurations. These results have analogs for simplices which we also prove. 

Finally, in Chapter 4 we show that real tight frames that generate lattices must be rational, and that the same holds for other vector systems with structured matrices of outer products. We describe a construction of lattices from distance transitive graphs which gives rise to strongly eutactic lattices. We discuss properties of this construction and also detail potential applications of lattices generated by incoherent systems of vectors.