Communications in Mathematical Physics

, Volume 359, Issue 3, pp 869–913 | Cite as

Discretisation Schemes for Level Sets of Planar Gaussian Fields

  • D. Beliaev
  • S. Muirhead
Open Access


Smooth random Gaussian functions play an important role in mathematical physics, a main example being the random plane wave model conjectured by Berry to give a universal description of high-energy eigenfunctions of the Laplacian on generic compact manifolds. Our work is motivated by questions about the geometry of such random functions, in particular relating to the structure of their nodal and level sets. We study four discretisation schemes that extract information about level sets of planar Gaussian fields. Each scheme recovers information up to a different level of precision, and each requires a maximum mesh-size in order to be valid with high probability. The first two schemes are generalisations and enhancements of similar schemes that have appeared in the literature (Beffara and Gayet in Publ Math IHES, 2017.; Mischaikow and Wanner in Ann Appl Probab 17:980–1018, 2007); these give complete topological information about the level sets on either a local or global scale. As an application, we improve the results in Beffara and Gayet (2017) on Russo–Seymour–Welsh estimates for the nodal set of positively-correlated planar Gaussian fields. The third and fourth schemes are, to the best of our knowledge, completely new. The third scheme is specific to the nodal set of the random plane wave, and provides global topological information about the nodal set up to ‘visible ambiguities’. The fourth scheme gives a way to approximate the mean number of excursion domains of planar Gaussian fields.


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Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematical InstituteUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.King’s College LondonLondonUK

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