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Erin Beckman : A Look at Branching Processes

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In 1873, a man named Francis Galton posed a question in Educational Times, calling for the mathematical study of the extinction of family surnames over time. Within a year, mathematician Henry Watson replied with a solution. But instead of ending there, this question opened up a new direction of mathematics: the study of branching processes. A branching process is a particle system in which the particles undergo splitting or branching events dictated by particular rules. This talk will introduce some examples of these systems (from the basic Galton-Watson model to more general branching-selection models), interesting questions people ask about branching processes, and some recent research done in this area.

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