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We report the first application of critical cluster techniques to the Mott metal-insulator transition in vanadium dioxide. We show that the geometric properties of the metallic and insulating puddles observed by scanning near-field infrared microscopy are consistent with the system passing near criticality of the random field Ising model as temperature is varied. The resulting large barriers to equilibrium may be the source of the unusually robust hysteresis phenomena associated with the metal-insulator transition in this system.doi:10.1103/physrevlett.116.036401 pmid:26849604 fatcat:t6ro3fxdlfa63nxrykzjaqka34