Intermittent random walks: Transport regimes and implications on search strategies

Ignacio Gomez Portillo, Daniel Campos, Vicenç Méndez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We construct a transport model for particles that alternate rests of random duration and flights with random velocities. The model provides a balance equation for the mesoscopic particle density obtained from the continuous-time random walk framework. By assuming power laws for the distributions of waiting times and flight durations (for any velocity distribution with finite moments) we have found that the model can yield all the transport regimes ranging from subdiffusion to ballistic depending on the values of the characteristic exponents of the distributions. In addition, if the exponents satisfy a simple relationship it is shown how the competition between the tails of the distributions gives rise to a diffusive transport. Finally, we explore how the details of this intermittent transport process affect the success probability in an optimal search problem where an individual searcher looks for a target distributed (heterogeneously) in space. All the results are conveniently checked with numerical simulations. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP02033
JournalJournal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • diffusion
  • dynamics (theory)
  • population dynamics (theory)
  • stochastic processes (theory)


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