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The critical behavior of charge-density waves (CDWs) in the pinned phase is studied for applied fields increasing toward the threshold field, using recently developed renormalization group techniques and simulations of automaton models. Despite the existence of many metastable states in the pinned state of the CDW, the renormalization group treatment can be used successfully to find the divergences in the polarization and the correlation length, and, to first order in an $\epsilon = 4-d$ expansion, the diverging time scale. The automaton models studied are a charge-density wave model and a ``sandpile'' model with periodic boundary conditions; these models are found to have the same critical behavior, associated with diverging avalanche sizes. The numerical results for the polarization and the diverging length and time scales in dimensions $d=2,3$ are in agreement with the analytical treatment. These results clarify the connections between the behaviour above and below threshold: the characteristic correlation lengths on both sides of the transition diverge with different exponents. The scaling of the distribution of avalanches on the approach to threshold is found to be different for automaton and continuous-variable models.

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29 pages, 11 postscript figures included, REVTEX v3.0 (dvi and PS files also available by anonymous ftp from in directory /pub/alan/cdwfigs) More information at


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