School of Mathematics
The early work of Condorcet in the eighteenth century, and that of Arrow and others in the twentieth century, revealed the complex and interesting mathematical problems that arise in the theory of social choice. In this lecture, Noga Alon, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics, explains how the simple process of voting leads to strikingly counter-intuitive paradoxes, focusing on several recent intriguing examples.
Finding the longest increasing subsequence (LIS) is a classic algorithmic problem. Simple $O(n log n)$ algorithms, based on dynamic programming, are known for solving this problem exactly on arrays of length $n$.
I will talk about the computational complexity of computing the noncommutative determinant. In contrast to the case of commutative algebras, we know of (virtually) no efficient algorithms to compute the determinant over non-commutative domains. Our results show that the determinant in noncommutative settings can be as hard as the permanent.
I will introduce l-adic representations and what it means for them to be automorphic, talk about potential automorphy as an alternative to automorphy, explain what can currently be proved (but not how) and discuss what seem to me the important open problems. This should serve as an introduction to half the special year for non-number theorists. The other major theme will likely be the `p-adic Langlands program', which I will not address (but perhaps someone else will).
I will describe the proof of the following surprising result: the typical billiard paths form the family of the most uniformly distributed curves in the unit square. I will justify this vague claim with a precise statement. As a byproduct, we obtain the counter-intuitive fact that the complexity of the test set is almost irrelevant. The error term is shockingly small, and it does not matter that we test uniformity with a nice set (like a circle or a square), or with an arbitrarily ugly Lebesgue measurable subset of the unit square.