Distribution of directional change as a signature of complex dynamics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Analyses of random walks traditionally use the mean square displacement (MSD) as an order parameter characterizing dynamics. We show that the distribution of relative angles of motion between successive time intervals of random walks in two or more dimensions provides information about stochastic processes beyond the MSD. We illustrate the behavior of this measure for common models and apply it to experimental particle tracking data. For a colloidal system, the distribution of relative angles reports sensitively on caging as the density varies. For transport mediated by molecular motors on filament networks in vitro and in vivo, we discover self-similar properties that cannot be described by existing models and discuss possible scenarios that can lead to the elucidated statistical features.

publication date

  • December 3, 2013