(with Alan Hammond). Arxiv

Many complex statistical mechanical models have intricate energy landscapes. The ground state, or lowest energy state, lies at the base of the deepest valley. In examples such as spin glasses and Gaussian polymers, there are many valleys; the abundance of near-ground states (at the base of valleys) indicates the phenomenon of chaos, under which the ground state alters profoundly when the model's disorder is slightly perturbed. In this article, we compute the critical exponent that governs the onset of chaos in a dynamic manifestation of a canonical model in the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang [KPZ] universality class, Brownian last passage percolation [LPP]. In this model in its static form, semi-discrete polymers advance through Brownian noise, their energy given by the integral of the white noise encountered along their journey. A ground state is a geodesic, of extremal energy given its endpoints. We perturb Brownian LPP by evolving the disorder under an Ornstein-Uhlenbeck flow. We prove that, for polymers of length n, a sharp phase transition marking the onset of chaos is witnessed at the critical time \(n^{−1/3}\). Indeed, the overlap between the geodesics at times zero and \(t>0\) that travel a given distance of order n will be shown to be of order n when \(t\ll n^{−1/3}\); and to be of smaller order when \(t\gg n^{−1/3}\). We expect this exponent to be shared among many interface models. The present work thus sheds light on the dynamical aspect of the KPZ class; it builds on several recent advances. These include Chatterjee's harmonic analytic theory [Cha14] of equivalence of superconcentration and chaos in Gaussian spaces; a refined understanding of the static landscape geometry of Brownian LPP developed in the companion paper [GH20]; and, underlying the latter, strong comparison estimates of the geodesic energy profile to Brownian motion in [CHH19].