We give the first comprehensive analysis of the effect of boundary conditions on the mixing time of the Glauber dynamics for the Ising model. Specifically, we show that the mixing time on an n-vertex regular tree with (+)-boundary remains O(n log n) at all temperatures (in contrast to the free boundary case, where the mixing time is not bounded by any fixed polynomial at low temperatures). We also show that this bound continues to hold in the presence of an arbitrary external field. Our results are actually stronger, and provide tight bounds on the log-Sobolev constant and the spectral gap of the dynamics. In addition, our methods yield simpler proofs and stronger results for the mixing time in the regime where it is insensitive to the boundary condition. Our techniques also apply to a much wider class of models, including those with hard constraints like the antiferromagnetic Potts model at zero temperature (colorings) and the hard-core model (independent sets).




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