Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 83–112 | Cite as

A New Class of Cellular Automata with a Discontinuous Glass Transition

  • Cristina Toninelli
  • Giulio Biroli


We introduce a new class of two-dimensional cellular automata with a bootstrap percolation-like dynamics. Each site can be either empty or occupied by a single particle and the dynamics follows a deterministic updating rule at discrete times which allows only emptying sites. We prove that the threshold density ρ c for convergence to a completely empty configuration is non trivial, 0<ρ c <1, contrary to standard bootstrap percolation. Furthermore we prove that in the subcritical regime, ρ<ρ c , emptying always occurs exponentially fast and that ρ c coincides with the critical density for two-dimensional oriented site percolation on ℤ2. This is known to occur also for some cellular automata with oriented rules for which the transition is continuous in the value of the asymptotic density and the crossover length determining finite size effects diverges as a power law when the critical density is approached from below. Instead for our model we prove that the transition is discontinuous and at the same time the crossover length diverges faster than any power law. The proofs of the discontinuity and the lower bound on the crossover length use a conjecture on the critical behaviour for oriented percolation. The latter is supported by several numerical simulations and by analytical (though non rigorous) works through renormalization techniques. Finally, we will discuss why, due to the peculiar mixed critical/first order character of this transition, the model is particularly relevant to study glassy and jamming transitions. Indeed, we will show that it leads to a dynamical glass transition for a Kinetically Constrained Spin Model. Most of the results that we present are the rigorous proofs of physical arguments developed in a joint work with D.S. Fisher.


Bootstrap percolation Glass transition Cellular automata Finite size scaling 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Probabilités et Modèles Aléatoires CNRS UMR 7599Univ. Paris VI–VIIParis Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Service de Physique Théorique, CEA/Saclay-Orme des MerisiersGif-sur-Yvette CedexFrance

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