Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 748–783 | Cite as

Self-organized Segregation on the Grid

  • Hamed Omidvar
  • Massimo Franceschetti


We consider an agent-based model with exponentially distributed waiting times in which two types of agents interact locally over a graph, and based on this interaction and on the value of a common intolerance threshold \(\tau \), decide whether to change their types. This is equivalent to a zero-temperature ising model with Glauber dynamics, an asynchronous cellular automaton with extended Moore neighborhoods, or a Schelling model of self-organized segregation in an open system, and has applications in the analysis of social and biological networks, and spin glasses systems. Some rigorous results were recently obtained in the theoretical computer science literature, and this work provides several extensions. We enlarge the intolerance interval leading to the expected formation of large segregated regions of agents of a single type from the known size \(\epsilon >0\) to size \(\approx 0.134\). Namely, we show that for \(0.433< \tau < 1/2\) (and by symmetry \(1/2<\tau <0.567\)), the expected size of the largest segregated region containing an arbitrary agent is exponential in the size of the neighborhood. We further extend the interval leading to expected large segregated regions to size \(\approx 0.312\) considering “almost segregated” regions, namely regions where the ratio of the number of agents of one type and the number of agents of the other type vanishes quickly as the size of the neighborhood grows. In this case, we show that for \(0.344 < \tau \le 0.433\) (and by symmetry for \(0.567 \le \tau <0.656\)) the expected size of the largest almost segregated region containing an arbitrary agent is exponential in the size of the neighborhood. This behavior is reminiscent of supercritical percolation, where small clusters of empty sites can be observed within any sufficiently large region of the occupied percolation cluster. The exponential bounds that we provide also imply that complete segregation, where agents of a single type cover the whole grid, does not occur with high probability for \(p=1/2\) and the range of intolerance considered.


Unperturbed Schelling segregation Zero-temperature ising model Asynchronous cellular automation (ACA) Percolation theory First passage percolation Exponential segregation 



The authors thank Prof. Jason Schweinsberg of the Mathematics Department of University of California at San Diego for providing invaluable feedback on earlier drafts of the paper and for suggesting some improved proofs.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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