A Reidemeister-Singer Conjecture for Surface Diagrams

Jonathan Williams
University of California, Berkeley
December 3, 2010

There is a way to specify any smooth, closed oriented four-manifold using a surface decorated with simple closed curves, something I call a surface diagram. In this talk I will describe three moves on these objects, two of which are reminiscent of Heegaard diagrams for three-manifolds. These may form part of a uniqueness theorem for such diagrams that is likely to be useful for understanding Floer theories for non-symplectic four-manifolds.

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.

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.