Metastability and Relaxation of Processes. An Overview of Basic Notions and Issues
2001, v.7, Issue 1, 5-19
The session was centered around recent 0 on the convergence properties of simulation algorithms, and some related or resulting questions. One of the goals of the session was to expose the usual audience of probabilists and mathematical and theoretical physicists to promising subjects developed (up to now) by "outsiders". The clear expositions by speakers from computer science and statistics departments were, in fact, a distinctive feature of the session. This introduction is a brief review of the basic notions and issues involved. The goal is to give a non-technical panorama of the central topics of the session, trying to emphasize a common thread. A careful statement of results and the formulation of further, deeper, questions can be found in the speakers' contributions. The session had a more or less even-weighted mixture of "classical" and "new" issues. Of course, this is a vague distinction and the classification below is hard to justify and easy to dispute. In general terms, the qualifier "new" is applied either in the literal sense for relatively recent lines of research, or in the relative sense for topics up to now developed with little regard to relaxation problems.
Keywords: spin dynamics,perfect simulations,chains with complete connections,metastability,relaxation speed