Complexity of the pure spherical p-spin model

Stochastics Seminar
Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 3:05pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
Julian Gold – Northwestern University – gold@math.northwestern.edu
Michael Damron

The pure spherical p-spin model is a Gaussian random polynomial H of degree p on an N-dimensional sphere, with N large. The sphere is viewed as the state space of a physical system with many degrees of freedom, and the random function H is interpreted as a smooth assignment of energy to each state, i.e. as an energy landscape. 

In 2012, Auffinger, Ben Arous and Cerny used the Kac-Rice formula to count the average number of critical points of H having a given index, and with energy below a given value. This number is exponentially large in N for p > 2, and the rate of growth itself is a function of the index chosen and of the energy cutoff. This function, called the complexity, reveals interesting topological information about the landscape H: it was shown that below an energy threshold marking the bottom of the landscape, all critical points are local minima or saddles with an index not diverging with N. It was shown that these finite-index saddles have an interesting nested structure, despite their number being exponentially dominated by minima up to the energy threshold. The total complexity (considering critical points of any index) was shown to be positive at energies close to the lowest. Thus, at least from the perspective of the average number of critical points, these random landscapes are very non-convex. The high-dimensional and rugged aspects of these landscapes make them relevant to the folding of large molecules and the performance of neural nets. 

Subag made a remarkable contribution in 2017, when he used a second-moment approach to show that the total number of critical points concentrates around its mean. In light of the above, when considering critical points near the bottom of the landscape, we can view Subag's result as a statement about the concentration of the number of local minima. His result demonstrated that the typical behavior of the minima reflects their average behavior. We complete the picture for the bottom of the landscape by showing that the number of critical points of any finite index concentrates around its mean. This information is important to studying associated dynamics, for instance navigation between local minima. Joint work with Antonio Auffinger and Yi Gu at Northwestern.