Exponential number of equilibria and depinning threshold for a directed polymer in a random potential

Yan V. Fyodorov, Pierre Le Doussal, Alberto Rosso, Christophe Texier

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22 Citations (Scopus)
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By extending the Kac-Rice approach to manifolds of finite internal dimension, we show that the mean number of all possible equilibria (i.e. force-free configurations, a.k.a. equilibrium points) of an elastic line (directed polymer), confined in a harmonic well and submitted to a quenched random Gaussian potential in dimension , grows exponentially with its length . The growth rate is found to be directly related to the generalised Lyapunov exponent (GLE) which is a moment-generating function characterising the large-deviation type fluctuations of the solution to the initial value problem associated with the random Schrödinger operator of the 1D Anderson localization problem. For strong confinement, the rate is small and given by a non-perturbative (instanton, Lifshitz tail-like) contribution to GLE. For weak confinement, the rate is found to be proportional to the inverse Larkin length of the pinning theory. As an application, identifying the depinning with a landscape “topology trivialization” phenomenon, we obtain an upper bound for the depinning threshold , in the presence of an applied force, for elastic lines and -dimensional manifolds, expressed through the mean modulus of the spectral determinant of the Laplace operators with a random potential. We also discuss the question of counting of stable equilibria. Finally, we extend the method to calculate the asymptotic number of equilibria at fixed energy (elastic, potential and total), and obtain the (annealed) distribution of the energy density over these equilibria (i.e. force-free configurations). Some connections with the Larkin model are also established.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-64
Early online date27 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Directed polymer in random medium
  • Pinning
  • Random Schrödinger operator
  • Anderson localisation
  • Generalised Lyapunov exponent


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