Information Storage in the Stochastic Ising Model

Ziv Goldfeld, Guy Bresler, Yury Polyanskiy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Most information storage devices write data by modifying the local state of matter, in the hope that sub-atomic local interactions stabilize the state for sufficiently long time, thereby allowing later recovery. Motivated to explore how temporal evolution of physical states in magnetic storage media affects their capacity, this work initiates the study of information retention in locally-interacting particle systems. The system dynamics follow the stochastic Ising model (SIM) over a 2-dimensional sqrt {{n}}times sqrt {{n}} grid. The initial spin configuration {X}{0} serves as the user-controlled input. The output configuration {X}{{t}} is produced by running t steps of Glauber dynamics. Our main goal is to evaluate the information capacity {I}{{n}}({t}):=max {{p}{{X}{0}}}{I}({X}{0};{X}{{t}}) when time t scales with the system's size n. While the positive (but low) temperature regime is our main interest, we start by exploring the simpler zero-temperature dynamics. We first show that at zero temperature, order of sqrt {{n}} bits can be stored in the system indefinitely by coding over stable, striped configurations. While sqrt {{n}} is order optimal for infinite time, backing off to {t}< infty , higher orders of {I}{{n}}({t}) are achievable. First, via linear coding arguments imply we show that {I}{{n}}({t}) = Theta ({n}) for {t}={O}({n}). To go beyond the linear scale, we develop a droplet-based achievability scheme that reliably stores Omega left ({{n}/log {n}}right) for {t}={O}({n}log {n}) time ( log {n} can be replaced with any {o}({n}) function). Moving to the positive but low temperature regime, two main results are provided. First, we show that an initial configuration drawn from the Gibbs measure cannot retain more than a single bit for {t}geq exp ({C}beta {n}{1/4+epsilon }) time. On the other hand, when scaling time with the inverse temperature beta , the stripe-based coding scheme (that stores for infinite time at zero temperature) is shown to retain its bits for {e}{{c}beta }.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9312622
Pages (from-to)1373-1399
Number of pages27
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Glauber dynamics
  • Markov chains
  • information capacity
  • stochastic ising model
  • storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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