Connection between nonlinear energy optimization and instantons

Daniel Lecoanet, Rich R. Kerswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
221 Downloads (Pure)


How systems transit between different stable states under external perturbation is an important practical issue. We discuss here how a recently developed energy optimization method for identifying the minimal disturbance necessary to reach the basin boundary of a stable state is connected to the instanton trajectory from large deviation theory of noisy systems. In the context of the one-dimensional Swift-Hohenberg equation, which has multiple stable equilibria, we first show how the energy optimization method can be straightforwardly used to identify minimal disturbances - minimal seeds - for transition to specific attractors from the ground state. Then, after generalizing the technique to consider multiple, equally spaced-in-time perturbations, it is shown that the instanton trajectory is indeed the solution of the energy optimization method in the limit of infinitely many perturbations provided a specific norm is used to measure the set of discrete perturbations. Importantly, we find that the key features of the instanton can be captured by a low number of discrete perturbations (typically one perturbation per basin of attraction crossed). This suggests a promising new diagnostic for systems for which it may be impractical to calculate the instanton.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012212
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Connection between nonlinear energy optimization and instantons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this