Moments of action provide insight into critical times for advection-diffusion-reaction processes.
Ellery AJ., Simpson MJ., McCue SW., Baker RE.
Berezhkovskii and co-workers introduced the concept of local accumulation time as a finite measure of the time required for the transient solution of a reaction-diffusion equation to effectively reach steady state [Biophys J. 99, L59 (2010); Phys. Rev. E 83, 051906 (2011)]. Berezhkovskii's approach is a particular application of the concept of mean action time (MAT) that was introduced previously by McNabb [IMA J. Appl. Math. 47, 193 (1991)]. Here, we generalize these previous results by presenting a framework to calculate the MAT, as well as the higher moments, which we call the moments of action. The second moment is the variance of action time, the third moment is related to the skew of action time, and so on. We consider a general transition from some initial condition to an associated steady state for a one-dimensional linear advection-diffusion-reaction partial differential equation (PDE). Our results indicate that it is possible to solve for the moments of action exactly without requiring the transient solution of the PDE. We present specific examples that highlight potential weaknesses of previous studies that have considered the MAT alone without considering higher moments. Finally, we also provide a meaningful interpretation of the moments of action by presenting simulation results from a discrete random-walk model together with some analysis of the particle lifetime distribution. This work shows that the moments of action are identical to the moments of the particle lifetime distribution for certain transitions.