Wencai Liu


University of California, Irvine


Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm



RH 306

The Harper's model is a tight-binding description of Bloch electrons on $\mathbb{Z}^2$ under a constant transverse magnetic field. In 1964, Mark Azbel predicted that both spectra and eigenfunctions of this model have self-similar hierarchical structure driven by the continued fraction expansion of the irrational magnetic flux. In 1976, the hierarchical structure of spectra was discovered numerically by Douglas Hofstadter, and was later observed in various experiments. The mathematical study of Harper's model led to the development of spectral theory of the almost Mathieu operator, with the solution of the Ten Martini Problem partially confirming the fractal structure of the spectrum.

In this talk, we will present necessary background and discuss the main ideas behind our confirmation (joint with S. Jitomirskaya) of  Azbel's second prediction of the structure of the eigenfunctions. More precisely, we show that the eigenfunctions of the almost Mathieu operators in the localization regime, feature self-similarity governed by the continued fraction expansion of the frequency. These results also lead to the proof of sharp arithmetic transitions between pure point and singular continuous spectra, both in the frequency and the phase, as conjectured in 1994.