Serguei Popov (UNICAMP)

We establish a decoupling feature of the random interlacement process I^u in Z^d, at level u, for d \geq 3. Roughly speaking, we show that observations of I^u restricted to two disjoint subsets A_1 and A_2 of Z^d are approximately independent, once we add a sprinkling to the process I^u by slightly increasing the parameter u. Our results differ from previous ones in that we allow the mutual distance between the sets A_1 and A_2 to be much smaller than their diameters. We then provide an important application of this decoupling for which such flexibility is crucial. More precisely, we prove that, above a certain critical threshold u**, the probability of having long paths that avoid I^u is exponentially small, with logarithmic corrections for d=3. To obtain the above decoupling, we first develop a general method for comparing the trace left by two Markov chains on the same state space. This method is based in what we call the soft local time of a chain. In another crucial step towards our main result, we also prove that any discrete set can be "smoothened" into a slightly enlarged discrete set, for which its equilibrium measure behaves in a regular way. This is a joint work with Augusto Teixeira.