Testing transition state theory on kac-Zwanzig model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A variant of the Kac-Zwanzig model is used to test the prediction of transition state theory (TST) and variational transition state theory (VTST). The model describes the evolution of a distinguished particle moving in a double-well external potential and coupled to N free particles through linear springs. While the Kac-Zwanzig model is deterministic, under appropriate choice of the model parameters the evolution of the distinguished particle can be approximated by a two-state Markov chain whose transition rate constants can be computed exactly in suitable limit. Here, these transition rate constants are compared with the predictions of TST and VTST. It is shown that the application of TST with a naive (albeit natural) choice of dividing surface leads to the wrong prediction of the transition rate constants. This is due to crossings of the dividing surface that do not correspond to actual transition events. However, optimizing over the dividing surface within VTST allows one to eliminate completely these spurious crossings, and therefore derive the correct transition rate constants for the model. The reasons why VTST is successful in this model are discussed, which allows one to speculate on the reliability of VTST in more complicated systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-73
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Effective dynamics
  • Harmonic oscillators
  • Heat bath
  • Metastability
  • Stochastic equation
  • Transition rates
  • Transition state theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing transition state theory on kac-Zwanzig model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this