Patterns, Universality and Computational Algorithms

Nigel Goldenfeld
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
December 1, 2010

Can we use computational algorithms to make accurate predictions of physical phenomena? In this talk, intended for non-experts, I will give examples where complicated space-time phenomena can be exquisitely captured with simple computational algorithms, that not only produce patterns resembling those seen in experiment, but also make accurate predictions about probes of dynamics and spatial organisation, such as correlation functions. I use examples from condensed matter physics, as well as from geophysics.

Self-Correction, Distance Estimation and Local Testing of Codes

Dana Moshkovitz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
November 29, 2010

We construct linear codes of almost-linear length and linear distance that can be locally self-corrected on average from a constant number of queries:

1. Given oracle access to a word $w\in\Sigma^n$ that is at least $\varepsilon$-close to a codeword $c$, and an index $i\in [n]$ to correct, with high probability over $i$ and over the internal randomness, the local algorithm returns a list of possible corrections that contains $c_i$.

The Permanents of Gaussian Matrices

Scott Aaronson
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
November 29, 2010

In recent joint work with Alex Arkhipov, we proposed a quantum optics experiment, which would sample from a probability distribution that we believe cannot be sampled (even approximately) by any efficient classical algorithm, unless the polynomial hierarchy collapses. Several optics groups are already working toward doing our experiment.

(Some) Generic Properties of (Some) Infinite Groups

Igor Rivin
Temple University; Member, School of Mathematics
November 29, 2010

This talk will be a biased survey of recent work on various properties of elements of infinite groups, which can be shown to hold with high probability once the elements are sampled from a large enough subset of the group (examples of groups: linear groups over the integers, free groups, hyperbolic groups, mapping class groups, automorphism groups of free groups . . . )