Abstract:
We give an overview of the state of the art of the analysis of disordered models of pinning on a defect line. This class of models includes a number of well known and much studied systems (like polymer pinning on a defect line, wetting of interfaces on a disordered substrate and the Poland-Scheraga model of DNA denaturation). A remarkable aspect is that, in absence of disorder, all the models in this class are exactly solvable and they display a localization-delocalization transition that one understands in full detail. Moreover the behavior of such systems near criticality is controlled by a parameter and one observes, by tuning the parameter, the full spectrum of critical behaviors, ranging from first order to infinite order transitions. This is therefore an ideal set-up in which to address the question of the effect of disorder on the phase transition,notably on critical properties. We will review recent results that show that the physical prediction that goes under the name of Harris criterion is indeed fully correct for pinning models. Beyond summarizing the results, we will sketch most of the arguments of proof.

Abstract:
A class of discrete renewal processes with super-exponentially decaying inter-arrival distributions coincides with the infinite volume limit of general homogeneous pinning models in their localized phase. Pinning models are statistical mechanics systems to which a lot of attention has been devoted both for their relevance for applications and because they are solvable models exhibiting a non-trivial phase transition. The spatial decay of correlations in these systems is directly mapped to the speed of convergence to equilibrium for the associated renewal processes. We show that close to criticality, under general assumptions, the correlation decay rate, or the renewal convergence rate, coincides with the inter-arrival decay rate. We also show that, in general, this is false away from criticality. Under a stronger assumption on the inter-arrival distribution we establish a local limit theorem, capturing thus the sharp asymptotic behavior of correlations.

Abstract:
A new species of Solanum from Brazil is described. Solanum evolvuloides Giacomin & Stehmann sp. nov. belongs to section Gonatotrichum, a small group assigned to the Brevantherum Clade of the genus Solanum. It resembles S. turneroides Chodat, sharing with it heterandry, and S. parcistrigosum Bitter, with which it shares a similar habit and pubescence. Despite these similarities, the species can be recognized by its ovate-elliptic to cordiform leaf shape and more membranaceous leaf texture than the other species in the section, and stem, inflorescence axes, and calyx vestiture mainly composed of glandular hairs. Solanum evolvuloides is known to occur only in southeastern of Bahia state, Brazil, and in a preliminary assessment of the IUCN criteria can be considered a threatened species.

Abstract:
Oscillatory critical amplitudes have been repeatedly observed in hierarchical models and, in the cases that have been taken into consideration, these oscillations are so small to be hardly detectable. Hierarchical models are tightly related to iteration of maps and, in fact, very similar phenomena have been repeatedly reported in many fields of mathematics, like combinatorial evaluations and discrete branching processes. It is precisely in the context of branching processes with bounded off-spring that T. Harris, in 1948, first set forth the possibility that the logarithm of the moment generating function of the rescaled population size, in the super-critical regime, does not grow near infinity as a power, but it has an oscillatory prefactor. These oscillations have been observed numerically only much later and, while the origin is clearly tied to the discrete character of the iteration, the amplitude size is not so well understood. The purpose of this note is to reconsider the issue for hierarchical models and in what is arguably the most elementary setting -- the pinning model -- that actually just boils down to iteration of polynomial maps (and, notably, quadratic maps). In this note we show that the oscillatory critical amplitude for pinning models and the oscillating pre factor connected to the Harris random variable coincide. Moreover we make explicit the link between these oscillatory functions and the geometry of the Julia set of the map, making thus rigorous and quantitative some ideas set forth by B. Derrida, C. Itzykson and J. M. Luck (CMP 1984).

Abstract:
Log-periodic amplitudes appear in the critical behavior of a large class of systems, in particular when a discrete scale invariance is present. Here we show how to compute these critical amplitudes perturbatively when they originate from a renormalization map which is close to a monomial. In this case, the log-periodic amplitudes of the subdominant corrections to the leading critical behavior can also be calculated.

Abstract:
The free energy of quenched disordered systems is bounded above by the free energy of the corresponding annealed system. This bound may be improved by applying the annealing procedure, which is just Jensen inequality, after having modified the Hamiltonian in a way that the quenched expressions are left unchanged. This procedure is often viewed as a partial annealing or as a constrained annealing, in the sense that the term that is added may be interpreted as a Lagrange multiplier on the disorder variables. In this note we point out that, for a family of models, some of which have attracted much attention, the multipliers of the form of empirical averages of local functions cannot improve on the basic annealed bound from the viewpoint of characterizing the phase diagram. This class of multipliers is the one that is suitable for computations and it is often believed that in this class one can approximate arbitrarily well the quenched free energy.

Abstract:
A copolymer is a chain of repetitive units (monomers) that are almost identical, but they differ in their degree of affinity for certain solvents. This difference leads to striking phenomena when the polymer fluctuates in a nonhomogeneous medium, for example, made of two solvents separated by an interface. One may observe, for instance, the localization of the polymer at the interface between the two solvents. A discrete model of such system, based on the simple symmetric random walk on $\mathbb {Z}$, has been investigated in [Bolthausen and den Hollander, Ann. Probab. 25 (1997), 1334-1366], notably in the weak polymer-solvent coupling limit, where the convergence of the discrete model toward a continuum model, based on Brownian motion, has been established. This result is remarkable because it strongly suggests a universal feature of copolymer models. In this work, we prove that this is indeed the case. More precisely, we determine the weak coupling limit for a general class of discrete copolymer models, obtaining as limits a one-parameter [$\alpha \in(0,1)$] family of continuum models, based on $\alpha$-stable regenerative sets.

Abstract:
We analyze a (1+1)-dimension directed random walk model of a polymer dipped in a medium constituted by two immiscible solvents separated by a flat interface. The polymer chain is heterogeneous in the sense that a single monomer may energetically favor one or the other solvent. We focus on the case in which the polymer types are periodically distributed along the chain or, in other words, the polymer is constituted of identical stretches of fixed length. The phenomenon that one wants to analyze is the localization at the interface: energetically favored configurations place most of the monomers in the preferred solvent and this can be done only if the polymer sticks close to the interface. We investigate, by means of large deviations, the energy-entropy competition that may lead, according to the value of the parameters (the strength of the coupling between monomers and solvents and an asymmetry parameter), to localization. We express the free energy of the system in terms of a variational formula that we can solve. We then use the result to analyze the phase diagram.

Abstract:
This paper provides a rigorous study of the localization transition for a Gaussian free field on $\mathbb{Z}^d$ interacting with a quenched disordered substrate that acts on the interface when the interface height is close to zero. The substrate has the tendency to localize or repel the interface at different sites and one can show that a localization-delocalization transition takes place when varying the average pinning potential $h$: the free energy density is zero in the delocalized regime, that is for $h$ smaller than a threshold $h_c$, and it is positive for $h>h_c$. For $d\ge 3$ we compute $h_c$ and we show that the transition happens at the same value as for the annealed model. However we can show that the critical behavior of the quenched model differs from the one of the annealed one. While the phase transition of the annealed model is of first order, we show that the quenched free energy is bounded above by $ (h-h_c)_+^2$ times a positive constant and that, for Gaussian disorder, the quadratic behavior is sharp. Therefore this provides an example in which a {\sl relevant disorder critical exponent} can be made explicit: in theoretical physics disorder is said to be {\sl relevant} when the disorder changes the critical behavior of a system and, while there are cases in which it is known that disorder is relevant, the exact critical behavior is typically unknown. For $d=2$ we are not able to decide whether the quenched and annealed critical points coincide, but we provide an upper bound for the difference between them.

Abstract:
We consider certain one dimensional ordinary stochastic differential equations driven by additive Brownian motion of variance $\varepsilon ^2$. When $\varepsilon =0$ such equations have an unstable non-hyperbolic fixed point and the drift near such a point has a power law behavior. For $\varepsilon >0$ small, the fixed point property disappears, but it is replaced by a random escape or transit time which diverges as $\varepsilon \searrow0$. We show that this random time, under suitable (easily guessed) rescaling, converges to a limit random variable that essentially depends only on the power exponent associated to the fixed point. Such random variables, or laws, have therefore a universal character and they arise of course in a variety of contexts. We then obtain quantitative sharp estimates, notably tail properties, on these universal laws.