The size of the last merger and time reversal in $\Lambda$-coalescents
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1214/17-aihp847
We consider the number of blocks involved in the last merger of a $\Lambda$-coalescent started with $n$ blocks. We give conditions under which, as $n \to \infty$, the sequence of these random variables a) is tight, b) converges in distribution to a finite random variable or c) converges to infinity in probability. Our conditions are optimal for $\Lambda$-coalescents that have a dust component. For general $\Lambda$, we relate the three cases to the existence, uniqueness and non-existence of quasi-invariant measures for the dynamics of the block-counting process, and in case b) investigate the time-reversal of the block-counting process back from the time of the last merger.