## Measure-Theoretic Dvoretzky Theorem and Applications to Data Science

- Probability,Uploaded Videos ( 1451 Views )SEPC 2021 in honor of Elizabeth Meckes. Slides from the talks and more information are available <a href="https://services.math.duke.edu/~rtd/SEPC2021/SEPC2021.html">at this link (here).</a>

## Nayantara Bhatnagar : Subsequence Statistics in Random Mallows Permutations

- Probability ( 258 Views )The longest increasing subsequence (LIS) of a uniformly random permutation is a well studied problem. Vershik-Kerov and Logan-Shepp first showed that asymptotically the typical length of the LIS is 2sqrt(n). This line of research culminated in the work of Baik-Deift-Johansson who related this length to the GUE Tracy-Widom distribution. We study the length of the LIS of random permutations drawn from the Mallows measure, introduced by Mallows in connection with ranking problems in statistics. We prove limit theorems for the LIS for different regimes of the parameter of the distribution. I will also describe some recent results on the longest common subsequence of independent Mallows permutations. Relevant background for the talk will be introduced as needed. Based on work with Ron Peled, Riddhi Basu and Ke Jin.

## Lisa Hartung : Extreme Level Sets of Branching Brownian Motion

- Probability ( 253 Views )Branching Brownian motion is a classical process in probability theory belonging to the class of Â?Log-correlated random fieldsÂ?. We study the structure of extreme level sets of this process, namely the sets of particles whose height is within a fixed distance from the order of the global maximum. It is well known that such particles congregate at large times in clusters of order-one genealogical diameter around local maxima which form a Cox process in the limit. We add to these results by finding the asymptotic size of extreme level sets and the typical height and shape of those clusters which carry such level sets. We also find the right tail decay of the distribution of the distance between the two highest particles. These results confirm two conjectures of Brunet and Derrida.(joint work with A. Cortines, O Louidor)

## David Sivakoff : Polluted Bootstrap Percolation in Three Dimensions

- Probability ( 231 Views )In r-neighbor bootstrap percolation, the vertices of Z^d are initially occupied independently with probability p and empty otherwise. Occupied vertices remain occupied forever, and empty vertices iteratively become occupied when they have at least r occupied neighbors. It is a classic result of van Enter (r=d=2) and Schonmann (d>2 and r between 2 and d) that every vertex in Z^d eventually becomes occupied for any initial density p>0. In the polluted bootstrap percolation model, vertices of Z^d are initially closed with probability q, occupied with probability p and empty otherwise. The r-neighbor bootstrap rule is the same, but now closed vertices act as obstacles, and remain closed forever. This model was introduced 20 years ago by Gravner and McDonald, who studied the case d=r=2 and proved a phase transition exists for this model as p and q tend to 0. We prove a similar phase transition occurs when d=r=3, and we identify the polynomial scaling between p and q at which this transition occurs for the modified bootstrap percolation model. For one direction, our proof relies on duality methods in Lipschitz percolation to find a blocking structure that prevents occupation of the origin. The other direction follows from a rescaling argument, and the recent results of Holroyd and Gravner for d>r=2. This is joint work with Holroyd and Gravner.

## David Herzog : Supports of Degenerate Diffusion Processes: The Case of Polynomial Drift and Additive Noise

- Probability ( 223 Views )We discuss methods for computing supports of degenerate diffusion processes. We assume throughout that the diffusion satisfies a stochastic differential equation on R^{d} whose drift vector field X_{0} is ``polynomial'' and whose noise coefficients are constant. The case when each component of X_{0} is of odd degree is well understood. Hence we focus our efforts on X_{0} having at least one or more components of even degree. After developing methods to handle such cases, we shall apply them to specific examples, e.g. the Galerkin truncations of the Stochastic Navier-Stokes equation, to help establish ergodic properties of the resulting diffusion. One benefit to our approach is that, to prove such consequences, all we must do is compute certain
Lie brackets.

## Ruth Williams : Control of Stochastic Processing Networks

- Probability ( 222 Views )Stochastic processing networks (SPNs) are a significant generalization of conventional queueing networks that allow for flexible scheduling through dynamic sequencing and alternate routing. SPNs arise naturally in a variety of applications in operations management and their control and analysis present challenging mathematical problems. One approach to these problems, via approximate diffusion control problems, has been outlined by J. M. Harrison. Various aspects of this approach have been developed mathematically, including a reduction in dimension of the diffusion control problem. However, other aspects have been less explored, especially, solution of the diffusion control problem, derivation of policies by interpretating such solutions, and limit theorems that establish optimality of such policies in a suitable asymptotic sense. In this talk, for a concrete class of networks called parallel server systems which arise in service network and computer science applications, we explore previously undeveloped aspects of Harrison's scheme and illustrate the use of the approach in obtaining simple control policies that are nearly optimal. Identification of a graphical structure for the network, an invariance principle and properties of local times of reflecting Brownian motion, will feature in our analysis. The talk will conclude with a summary of the current status and description of open problems associated with the further development of control of stochastic processing networks. This talk will draw on aspects of joint work with M. Bramson, M. Reiman, W. Kang and V. Pesic.

## Firas Rassoul-Agha : On the almost-sure invariance principle for random walk in random environment

- Probability ( 210 Views )Consider a crystal formed of two types of atoms placed at the nodes of the integer lattice. The type of each atom is chosen at random, but the crystal is statistically shift-invariant. Consider next an electron hopping from atom to atom. This electron performs a random walk on the integer lattice with randomly chosen transition probabilities (since the configuration seen by the electron is different at each lattice site). This process is highly non-Markovian, due to the interaction between the walk and the environment. We will present a martingale approach to proving the invariance principle (i.e. Gaussian fluctuations from the mean) for (irreversible) Markov chains and show how this can be transferred to a result for the above process (called random walk in random environment). This is joint work with Timo Sepp\"al\"ainen.

## Scott Schmidler : Mixing times for non-stationary processes

- Probability ( 204 Views )Markov chain methods for Monte Carlo simulation of complex physical or statistical models often require significant tuning. Recent theoretical progress has renewed interest in "adaptive" Markov chain algorithms which learn from their sample history. However, these algorithms produce non-Markovian, time-inhomogeneous, irreversible stochastic processes, making rigorous analysis challenging. We show that lower bounds on the mixing times of these processes can be obtained using familiar ideas of hitting times and conductance from the theory of reversible Markov chains. The bounds obtained are sufficient to demonstrate slow mixing of several recently proposed algorithms including adaptive Metropolis kernels and the equi-energy sampler on some multimodal target distributions. These results provide the first non-trivial bounds on the mixing times of adaptive MCMC samplers, and suggest a way of classifying adaptive schemes that leads to new hybrid algorithms. Many open problems remain.

## Brian Rider : Log-gases and Tracy-Widom laws

- Probability ( 201 Views )The now ubiquitous Tracy-Widom laws were first discovered in the context of the Gaussian Orthogonal, Unitary, and Symplectic Ensembles (G{O/U/S}E) of random matrix theory. The latter may be viewed as logarithmic gases with quadratic (Gaussian) potential at three special inverses temperatures (beta=1,2,4). A few years back, Jose Ramirez, Balint Virag, and I showed that that one obtains generalizations of the Tracy-Widom laws at all inverse temperatures (beta>0), though still for quadratic potentials. I'll explain how similar ideas (and considerably more labor) extends the result to general potential, general temperature log-gases. This is joint work with Manjunath Krishnapur and Balint Virag.

## Leonid Koralov : An Inverse Problem for Gibbs Fields

- Probability ( 168 Views )It is well known that for a regular stable potential of pair interaction and a small value of activity one can define the corresponding Gibbs field (a measure on the space of configurations of points in $\mathbb{Z}^d$ or $\mathbb{R}^d$). We consider a converse problem. Namely, we show that for a sufficiently small constant $\overline{\rho}_1$ and a sufficiently small function $\overline{\rho}_2(x)$, $x \in \mathbb{Z}^d$ or $\mathbb{R}^d$, there exist a hard core pair potential, and a value of activity, such that $\overline{\rho}_1$ is the density and $\overline{\rho}_2$ is the pair correlation function of the corresponding Gibbs field.

## David Nualart : Regularity of the density of the stochastic heat equation

- Probability ( 165 Views )In this talk we present a recent result on the smoothness of the density for the solution of a semilinear heat equation with multiplicative space-time Gaussian white noise. We assume that the coefficients are smooth and the diffusion coefficient is not identically zero at the initial time. The proof of this result is based on the techniques of the Malliavin calculus, and the existence of negative moments for the solution of a linear heat equation with multiplicative space-time white noise.

## Sergey Cherkis : Octonions, Monopoles, and Knots

- Probability ( 164 Views )In 2011 Witten gave a formulation of the Khovanov homology of knots in terms of a system of nonlinear partial differential equations in five dimensions: the Haydys-Witten equations. We highlight the octonionic nature of these equations. This elucidates the importance of the underlying G2 structure and presents the Haydys-Witten equations as a dimensional reduction of the eight-dimensional Spin(7) instanton of Donaldson and Thomas. We conjecture that solutions of the Haydys-Witten equations are in one-to-one correspondence with octonionic monopoles with specific boundary conditions determined by the knot. Octonionic monopole equation also allows to define more general invariants associated to coassociative sumbanifolds in a G2 manifold.

## Louigi Addario-Berry : Probabilistic aspects of minimum spanning trees

- Probability ( 161 Views )Abstract: One of the most dynamic areas of probability theory is the study of the behaviour of discrete optimization problems on random inputs. My talk will focus on the probabilistic analysis of one of the first and foundational combinatorial optimization problems: the minimum spanning tree problem. The structure of a random minimum spanning tree (MST) of a graph G turns out to be intimately linked to the behaviour of critical and near-critical percolation on G. I will describe this connection and some of my results, alone and with coauthors, on the structure, scaling limits, and volume growth of random MSTs. It turns out that, on high-dimensional graphs, random minimum spanning trees are expected to be three-dimensional when viewed intrinsically, and six-dimensional when viewed as embedded objects.

## David Sivakoff : Random Site Subgraphs of the Hamming Torus

- Probability ( 159 Views )The critical threshold for the emergence of a giant component in the random site subgraph of a d-dimensional Hamming torus is given by the positive root of a polynomial. This value is distinct from the critical threshold for the random edge subgraph of the Hamming torus. The proof uses an intuitive application of multitype branching processes.

## Mark Huber : Conditions for Parallel and Simulated Tempering to be fast or slow

- Probability ( 154 Views )In Markov chain Monte Carlo, a Markov chain is constructed whose limiting distribution is equal to some target distribution. While it is easy to build such chains, for some distributions the standard constructions can take exponentially long to come near that limit, making the chain torpidly mixing. When the limit is reached in polynomial time, the chain is rapidly mixing. Tempering is a technique designed to speed up the convergence of Markov chains by adding an extra temperature parameter that acts to smooth out the target distribution. In this talk I will present joint work with Dawn Woodard (Cornell) and Scott Schmidler (Duke) that give sufficient conditions for a tempering chain to be torpidly mixing, and a related (but different) set of conditions for the chain to be rapidly mixing.

## Mykhaylo Shkolnikov : Particles interacting through their hitting times: neuron firing, supercooling and systemic risk

- Probability ( 140 Views )I will discuss a class of particle systems that serve as models for supercooling in physics, neuron firing in neuroscience and systemic risk in finance. The interaction between the particles falls into the mean-field framework pioneered by McKean and Vlasov in the late 1960s, but many new phenomena arise due to the singularity of the interaction. The most striking of them is the loss of regularity of the particle density caused by the the self-excitation of the system. In particular, while initially the evolution of the system can be captured by a suitable Stefan problem, the following irregular behavior necessitates a more robust probabilistic approach. Based on joint work with Sergey Nadtochiy.

## Asaf Nachmias : The Alexander-Orbach Conjecture Holds in High Dimensions

- Probability ( 138 Views )It is known that the simple random walk on the unique infinite cluster of supercritical percolation on Z^d diffuses in the same way it does on the original lattice. In critical percolation, however, the behavior of the random walk changes drastically. The infinite incipient cluster (IIC) of percolation on Z^d can be thought of as the critical percolation cluster conditioned on being infinite. Alexander and Orbach (1982) conjectured that the spectral dimension of the IIC is 4/3. This means that the probability of an n-step random walk to return to its starting point scales like n^{-2/3} (in particular, the walk is recurrent). In this work we prove this conjecture when d>18; that is, where the lace-expansion estimates hold. Joint work with Gady Kozma.

## Mokshay Madiman : A Shannon-McMillan-Breiman theorem for log-concave measures and applications in convex geometry

- Probability ( 132 Views )Our primary goal is to describe a strong quantitative form of the Shannon-McMillan-Breiman theorem for log-concave probability measures on linear spaces, even in the absence of stationarity. The main technical result is a concentration of measure inequality for the ``information content'' of certain random vectors. We will also briefly discuss implications. In particular, by combining this concentration result with ideas from information theory and convex geometry, we obtain a reverse entropy power inequality for convex measures that generalizes the reverse Brunn-Minkowski inequality of V. Milman. Along the way, we also develop a new information-theoretic formulation of Bourgain's hyperplane conjecture, as well as some Gaussian comparison inequalities for the entropy of log-concave probability measures. This is joint work with Sergey Bobkov (Minnesota).

## Pascal Maillard : Interval fragmentations with choice

- Probability ( 132 Views )Points fall into the unit interval according to a certain rule, splitting it up into fragments. An example rule is the following: at each step, two points are randomly drawn from the unit interval and the one that falls into the smaller (or larger) interval is discarded, while the other one is kept. This process is inspired by the so-called "power of choice" paradigm originating in the computer science literature on balanced load allocation models. The question of interest is how much the rule affects the geometry of the point cloud. With Elliot Paquette [1] we introduced a general version of this interval fragmentation model and showed that the empirical distribution of rescaled interval lengths converges almost surely to a deterministic probability measure. I will report on this work as well as on work in progress [2] where we show that the empirical measure of the points converges almost surely to the uniform distribution. The proofs involve techniques from stochastic approximation, non-linear integro-differential equations, ergodic theory for Markov processes and perturbations of semigroups on L^p spaces, amongst other things. [1] Maillard, P., & Paquette, E. (2016). Choices and intervals. Israel Journal of Mathematics, 212(1), 337Â?384. [2] Maillard, P., & Paquette, E. (in preparation). Interval fragmentations with choice: equidistribution and the evolution of tagged fragments

## Matt Junge : Parking

- Probability ( 125 Views )Parking functions were introduced by combinatorialists in the 1960s, and have recently been studied by probabilists. When the parking lot is an infinite graph and cars drive around at random, we will look at how many parking spots are needed for every car to eventually find a spot.

## Davar Khoshnevisan : A macroscopic multifractal analysis of parabolic stochastic PDEs

- Probability ( 123 Views )We will show that the solutions to a large family of stochastic PDEs that behave as the linear heat equation develop large-scale space-time peaks on infinitely-many different scales. We formalize this assertion by appealing to the Barlow-Taylor theory of macroscopic fractals. We will also present some earlier work on fixed-time results for comparison purposes. This talk is based on a paper and a work in progress with Kunwoo Kim (Technion) and Yimin Xiao (Michigan State University).

## Xue-Mei Li : Stirring the geodesics

- Probability ( 122 Views )In this talk, we discuss stochastic homogeneization on the Hopf fibration. Let us consider Berger's metrics on the three sphere, obtained by shrinking the Hopf circle directions by a factor epsilon. So we think of three spheres as two spheres attached at each point a circle. We consider a particle that is moved by two vector fields: a unit speed vector field, with respect to Berger's metrices, along the Hopf circle; and also a non-zero vector field in` \(S^2\) direction' with speed given by a one dimensional Brownian motion. In the limit of epsilon goes to zero, we obtain a Brownian motion on \(S^2\). The effective motion is obtained by moving a particle along a fast rotating horizontal direction.

## Elena Kosygina : Excited random walks

- Probability ( 120 Views )The idea behind excited random walks (ERWs), roughly speaking, is to take a well-known underlying process (such as, for example, simple symmetric random walk (SSRW)) and modify its transition probabilities for the "first few" visits to every site of the state space. These modifications can be deterministic or random. The resulting process is not markovian, and its properties can be very different from those of the underlying process. I shall give a short review of some of the known results for ERW (with SSRW as underlying process) on the d-dimensional integer lattice and then concentrate on a specific model for d=1. For this model we can give a complete picture including functional limit theorems.

## Dan Lacker : Probabilistic limit theory for mean field games

- Probability ( 120 Views )Mean field game theory describes continuum limits of symmetric large-population games. These games can often be seen as competitive extensions of classical models of interacting particle systems, where the particles are now "controlled state process" (with application-specific interpretation, such as position, income, wealth, etc.). The coupled optimization problems faced by each process are typically resolved by Nash equilibrium, and there is a large and growing literature on solvability problems (both theoretical and computational). On the other hand, relatively little is known on how to rigorously pass from a finite population to a continuum, especially for dynamic stochastic games. The basic question is: Given for each N a Nash equilibrium for the N-player game, do the equilibria (more precisely, the empirical distributions of state processes) converge as N tends to infinity? This talk is an overview of the known probabilistic limit theorems in this context (law of large numbers, fluctuations, and large deviations), the ideas behind them, and some open problems.

## Ivan Matic : Decay and Growth of Randomness

- Probability ( 119 Views )Formation of crystals, spread of infections, and flow of fluids through porous rocks are modeled mathematically as systems consisting of many particles that behave randomly. We will use fluctuations to quantify the randomness, and measure its decay as the number of particles increase. Then we will study the opposite problem: growth of randomness. It turns out that situations exist where it is beneficial to increase chaos. As one example, we will study methods to anonymously distribute files over the internet in such a way that nobody can trace the senders.

## Zsolt Pajor-Gyulai : Stochastic approach to anomalous diffusion in two dimensional, incompressible, periodic, cellular flows.

- Probability ( 117 Views )It is a well known fact that velocity grandients in a flow change the dispersion of a passive tracer. One clear manifestation of this phenomenon is that in systems with homogenization type diffusive long time/large scale behavior, the effective diffusivity often differs greatly from the molecular one. An important aspect of these well known result is that they are only valid on timescales much longer than the inverse diffusivity. We are interested in what happens on shorter timescales (subhomogenization regimes) in a family of two-dimensional incompressible periodic flows that consists only of pockets of recirculations essentially acting as traps and infinite flowlines separating these where significant transport is possible. Our approach is to follow the random motion of a tracer particle and show that under certain scaling it resembles time-changed Brownian motions. This shows that while the trajectories are still diffusive, the variance grows differently than linear.

## Alessandro Arlotto : Distributional Results for Markov Decision Problems

- Probability ( 115 Views )In this talk, I will discuss several finite-horizon Markov decision problems (MDPs) in which the goal is to gather distributional information regarding the total reward that one obtains when implementing a policy that maximizes total expected rewards. I will begin by studying the optimal policy for the sequential selection of an alternating subsequence from a sequence of n independent observations from a continuous distribution, and I will prove a central limit theorem for the number of selections made by that policy. Then, I will discuss a simple version of a sequential knapsack problem, and I will use its structure to characterize a class of MDPs in which the optimal total reward has variance that can be bounded in terms of its mean. Surprisingly, such characterization turns out to be common in several examples of MDPs from operations research, financial engineering and combinatorial optimization. (The talk is based on joint work with Robert W. Chen, Noah Gans, Larry Shepp, and J. Michael Steele.)

## Philip Matchett Wood : Random doubly stochastic tridiagonal matrices

- Probability ( 115 Views )Let $T_n$ be the compact convex set of tridiagonal doubly stochastic matrices. These arise naturally as birth and death chains with a uniform stationary distribution. One can think of a Â?typicalÂ? matrix $T_n$ as one chosen uniformly at random, and this talk will present a simple algorithm to sample uniformly in $T_n$. Once we have our hands on a 'typical' element of $T_n$, there are many natural questions to ask: What are the eigenvalues? What is the mixing time? What is the distribution of the entries? This talk will explore these and other questions, with a focus on whether a random element of $T_n$ exhibits a cutoff in its approach to stationarity. Joint work with Persi Diaconis.