Quantifying Hidden Order out of Equilibrium

Stefano Martiniani, Paul M. Chaikin, Dov Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


While the equilibrium properties, states, and phase transitions of interacting systems are well described by statistical mechanics, the lack of suitable state parameters has hindered the understanding of nonequilibrium phenomena in diverse settings, from glasses to driven systems to biology. The length of a losslessly compressed data file is a direct measure of its information content: The more ordered the data file is, the lower its information content and the shorter the length of its encoding can be made. Here, we describe how data compression enables the quantification of order in nonequilibrium and equilibrium many-body systems, both discrete and continuous, even when the underlying form of order is unknown. We consider absorbing state models on and off lattice, as well as a system of active Brownian particles undergoing motility-induced phase separation. The technique reliably identifies nonequilibrium phase transitions, determines their character, quantitatively predicts certain critical exponents without prior knowledge of the order parameters, and reveals previously unknown ordering phenomena. This technique should provide a quantitative measure of organization in condensed matter and other systems exhibiting collective phase transitions in and out of equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011031
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 14 2019
Externally publishedYes

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