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The Clairvoyant Demon Has a Hard Task

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2001

Computer Science Department, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215-2411, USA (e-mail:


Consider the integer lattice L = ℤ2. For some m [ges ] 4, let us colour each column of this lattice independently and uniformly with one of m colours. We do the same for the rows, independently of the columns. A point of L will be called blocked if its row and column have the same colour. We say that this random configuration percolates if there is a path in L starting at the origin, consisting of rightward and upward unit steps, avoiding the blocked points. As a problem arising in distributed computing, it has been conjectured that for m [ges ] 4 the configuration percolates with positive probability. This question remains open, but we prove that the probability that there is percolation to distance n but not to infinity is not exponentially small in n. This narrows the range of methods available for proving the conjecture.

Research Article
2000 Cambridge University Press

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