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## Instantons and Intermittency

We describe the method for finding the non-Gaussian tails of the probability distribution function (PDF) for solutions of a stochastic differential equation, such as the convection equation for a passive scalar, the random driven Navier-Stokes equation, etc. The existence of such tails is generally regarded as a manifestation of the intermittency phenomenon. Our formalism is based on the WKB approximation in the functional integral for the conditional probability of large fluctuation. We argue that the main contribution to the functional integral is given by a coupled field-force configuration—the *instanton*. As an example, we examine the correlation functions of the passive scalar *u* advected by a large-scale velocity field δ correlated in time. We find the instanton determining the tails of the generating functional, and show that it is different from the instanton that determines the probability distribution function of high powers of *u*. We discuss the simplest instantons for the Navier-Stokes equation. © *1996 The American Physical Society.*