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Spectral Statistics, Hydrodynamics, and Quantum Chaos

Date & Time

June 10, 2024, 10:00am

Where to Attend

PSC 2136


Michael Winer

Event Type

Thesis Defense

Dissertation Committee Chair: Brian Swingle, Victor Galitski


Maissam Barkeshli

Jay Sau

Jonathan Rosenberg (Dean’s representative)

Abstract:  One of the central problems in many-body physics, both classical and quantum, is the relations between different notions of chaos. Ergodicity, mixing, operator growth, the eigenstate thermalization hypothesis, and spectral chaos are defined in terms of completely different objects in different contexts, don't necessarily co-occur, but still seem to be manifestations of closely related phenomena.

In this dissertation, we study the relation between two notions of chaos: thermalization and spectral chaos. We define a quantity called the Total Return Probability (TRP) which measures how a system forgets its initial state after time $T$, and show that it is closely connected to the Spectral Form Factor (SFF), a measure of chaos deriving from the energy level spectrum of a quantum system.

The main thrust of this work concerns hydrodynamic systems- systems where locality prevents charge or energy from spreading quickly, this putting a throttle on thermalization. We show that the detailed spacings of energy levels closely capture the dynamics of these locally conserved charges.

We also study spin glasses, a phase of matter where the obstacle to thermalization comes not from locality but from the presence of too many neighbors. Changing one region requires changing nearby regions which requires changing nearby-to-nearby regions, until only catastrophic realignments of the whole system can fully explore phase space. In spin glasses we find our clearest analytic link between thermalization and spectral statistics. We analytically calculate the spectral form factor in the limit of large system size and show it is equal to the TRP.

Finally, in the conclusion, we discuss some ideas for the future of both the SFF and the TRP.