Prethermalization has been extensively studied in systems close to integrability. We propose a more general, yet conceptually simpler, setup for this phenomenon. We consider a - possibly nonintegrable - reference dynamics, weakly perturbed so that the perturbation breaks at least one conservation law of the reference dynamics. We argue then that the evolution of the system proceeds via intermediate (generalized) equilibrium states of the reference dynamics. The motion on the manifold of equilibrium states is governed by an autonomous equation, flowing towards global equilibrium in a time of order g-2, where g is the perturbation strength. We also describe the leading correction to the time-dependent reference equilibrium state, which is, in general, of order g. The theory is well confirmed in numerical calculations of model Hamiltonians, for which we use a numerical linked cluster expansion and full exact diagonalization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)