Self-assembly of geometric space from random graphs

Christy Kelly, Carlo A. Trugenberger, Fabio Biancalana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


We present a Euclidean quantum gravity model in which random graphs dynamically self-assemble into discrete manifold structures. Concretely, we consider a statistical model driven by a discretisation of the Euclidean Einstein-Hilbert action; contrary to previous approaches based on simplicial complexes and Regge calculus our discretisation is based on the Ollivier curvature, a coarse analogue of the manifold Ricci curvature defined for generic graphs. The Ollivier curvature is generally difficult to evaluate due to its definition in terms of optimal transport theory, but we present a new exact expression for the Ollivier curvature in a wide class of relevant graphs purely in terms of the numbers of short cycles at an edge. This result should be of independent intrinsic interest to network theorists. Action minimising configurations prove to be cubic complexes up to defects; there are indications that such defects are dynamically suppressed in the macroscopic limit. Closer examination of a defect free model shows that certain classical configurations have a geometric interpretation and discretely approximate vacuum solutions to the Euclidean Einstein-Hilbert action. Working in a configuration space where the geometric configurations are stable vacua of the theory, we obtain direct numerical evidence for the existence of a continuous phase transition; this makes the model a UV completion of Euclidean Einstein gravity. Notably, this phase transition implies an area-law for the entropy of emerging geometric space. Certain vacua of the theory can be interpreted as baby universes; we find that these configurations appear as stable vacua in a mean field approximation of our model, but are excluded dynamically whenever the action is exact indicating the dynamical stability of geometric space. The model is intended as a setting for subsequent studies of emergent time mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125012
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number12
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019


  • discrete geometry
  • emergent space
  • Euclidean quantum gravity
  • Ollivier curvature
  • quantum gravity
  • random graphs
  • statistical mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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