Tableaux combinatorics for the asymmetric exclusion process

Research paper by Sylvie Corteel, Lauren K. Williams

Indexed on: 18 May '07Published on: 18 May '07Published in: Mathematics - Combinatorics


The partially asymmetric exclusion process (PASEP) is an important model from statistical mechanics which describes a system of interacting particles hopping left and right on a one-dimensional lattice of $n$ sites. It is partially asymmetric in the sense that the probability of hopping left is $q$ times the probability of hopping right. Additionally, particles may enter from the left with probability $\alpha$ and exit from the right with probability $\beta$. In this paper we prove a close connection between the PASEP and the combinatorics of permutation tableaux. (These tableaux come indirectly from the totally nonnegative part of the Grassmannian, via work of Postnikov, and were studied in a paper of Steingrimsson and the second author.) Namely, we prove that in the long time limit, the probability that the PASEP is in a particular configuration $\tau$ is essentially the generating function for permutation tableaux of shape $\lambda(\tau)$ enumerated according to three statistics. The proof of this result uses a result of Derrida, Evans, Hakim, and Pasquier on the {\it matrix ansatz} for the PASEP model. As an application, we prove some monotonicity results for the PASEP. We also derive some enumerative consequences for permutations enumerated according to various statistics such as weak excedence set, descent set, crossings, and occurences of generalized patterns.