A spectral decomposition for the block counting process of the Bolthausen-Sznitman coalescent

Martin Möhle (University of Tübingen, Germany)
Helmut Pitters (University of Oxford, UK)


A spectral decomposition for the generator and the transition probabilities of the block counting process of the Bolthausen-Sznitman coalescent is derived. This decomposition is closely related to the Stirling numbers of the first and second kind. The proof is based on generating functions and exploits a certain factorization property of the Bolthausen-Sznitman coalescent. As an application we derive a formula for the hitting probability $h(i,j)$ that the block counting process of the Bolthausen-Sznitman coalescent ever visits state $j$ when started from state $i\ge j$. Moreover, explicit formulas are derived for the moments and the distribution function of the absorption time $\tau_n$ of the Bolthausen-Sznitman coalescent started in a partition with $n$ blocks. We provide an elementary proof for the well known convergence of $\tau_n-\log\log n$ in distribution to the standard Gumbel distribution. It is shown that the speed of this convergence is of order $1/\log n$.

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Pages: 1-11

Publication Date: July 23, 2014

DOI: 10.1214/ECP.v19-3464


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