Document Type



Many systems in nature are conjectured to exist at a critical point, including the brain and earthquake faults. The primary reason for this conjecture is that the distribution of clusters (avalanches of firing neurons in the brain or regions of slip in earthquake faults) can be described by a power law. Because there are other mechanisms such as 1/f noise that can produce power laws, other criteria that the cluster critical exponents must satisfy can be used to conclude whether or not the observed power-law behavior indicates an underlying critical point rather than an alternate mechanism. We show how a possible misinterpretation of the cluster scaling data can lead one to incorrectly conclude that the measured critical exponents do not satisfy these criteria. Examples of the possible misinterpretation of the data for one-dimensional random site percolation and the one-dimensional Ising model are presented. We stress that the interpretation of a power-law cluster distribution indicating the presence of a critical point is subtle and its misinterpretation might lead to the abandonment of a promising area of research. © 2023 American Physical Society.

Publication Title

Physical Review E

Publication Date









earthquakes, faulting, Ising model, percolation (solid state)

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Physics Commons



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