On Walks Avoiding a Quadrant
Two-dimensional (random) walks in cones are very natural both in combinatorics and probability theory: they are interesting for themselves and also because they are strongly related to other discrete structures. While walks restricted to the first quadrant have been studied a lot, the case of planar, non-convex cones – equivalent to the three-quarter plane after a linear transform – has been approached only recently. In this article we develop an analytic approach to the case of walks in three quadrants. The advantage of this method is to provide uniform treatment in the study of models corresponding to different step sets. After splitting the three quadrants in two symmetric convex cones, the method is composed of three main steps: write a system of functional equations satisfied by the counting generating function, which may be simplified into one single equation under symmetry conditions; transform the functional equation into a boundary value problem; and finally solve this problem, using a concept of anti-Tutte's invariant. The result is a contour-integral expression for the generating function. Such systems of functional equations also appear in queueing theory with the famous Join-the-Shortest-Queue model, which is still an open problem in the non-symmetric case.