A combined model of aggregation, fragmentation, and exchange processes: insights from analytical calculations


We introduce a mean-field framework for the study of systems of interacting particles sharing a conserved quantity. The work generalises and unites the existing fields of asset-exchange models, often applied to socio-economic systems, and aggregation-fragmentation models, typically used in modelling the dynamics of clusters. An initial model includes only two-body collisions, which is then extended to include many-body collisions and spontaneous fragmentation. We derive self-consistency equations for the steady-state distribution, which can be solved using a population dynamics algorithm, as well as a full solution for the time evolution of the moments, corroborated with numerical simulations. The generality of the model makes it applicable to many problems and allows for the study of systems exhibiting more complex interactions that those typically considered. The work is relevant to the modelling of barchan dune fields in which interactions between the bedforms and spontaneous fragmentation due to changes in the wind are thought to lead to size-selection. Our work could also be applied in finding wealth distributions when agents can both combine assets as well as split into multiple subsidiaries.

Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
Alessia Annibale
Alessia Annibale
Senior Lecturer in Disordered Systems