Deterministic random walks on the integers

Joshua Cooper, Benjamin Doerr, Joel Spencer, Gábor Tardos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jim Propp's P-machine, also known as the 'rotor router model', is a simple deterministic process that simulates a random walk on a graph. Instead of distributing chips to randomly chosen neighbors, it serves the neighbors in a fixed order. We investigate how well this process simulates a random walk. For the graph being the infinite path, we show that, independent of the starting configuration, at each time and on each vertex, the number of chips on this vertex deviates from the expected number of chips in the random walk model by at most a constant c1, which is approximately 2.29. For intervals of length L, this improves to a difference of O (log L), for the L2 average of a contiguous set of intervals even to O (sqrt(log L)). All these bounds are tight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2072-2090
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Combinatorics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics


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