School Colloquium
The general purpose of the School Colloquia is to provide accessible and engaging introductions to a broad range of topics of current research interest in any branch of Mathematics or its applications.
As the Maths Lecture Theatre is out of use in the Spring Semester, the Colloquium will be taking place elsewhere on campus. Please consult the list below a week or two ahead of the colloquium for the venue and exact time. The colloquium will be followed by a reception. (Currently we are expecting the colloquium to be given in Lecture Theatre PP2 of the People's Palace, and the reception to be held in the Foyer of the same building.)
The college web site provides detailed directions(link is external) for reaching the Mile End campus. The People's Palace is building number 16 on the campus map(link is external); it lies roughly half way between Stepney Green and Mile End stations.

DateRoomSpeakerTitle

03/10/2016 5:00 PMMathematics Lecture TheatreFrank den Hollander (Leiden)Breaking of ensemble equivalence for complex networksIn statistical physics the mathematical description of interacting particle systems is based on what are called “Gibbs ensembles”. These represent several a priori choices for the probability distribution on the configuration space of the system capturing physically relevant situations. One of the corner stones of statistical physics is the assumption that, in the thermodynamic limit when the system becomes very large, the microcanonical ensemble as a function of “energy” coincides with the canonical ensemble as a function of “temperature”. However, various examples of systems have been found for which these two ensembles are not equivalent. A complete theory of this intriguing phenomenon is still missing. We show that ensemble nonequivalence can manifest itself also in random graphs with topological constraints. In particular, we show that if we consider a random graph in which the degrees of the nodes are fixed (= hard constraint), respectively, the degrees of the nodes are fixed on average (= soft constraint), then there is no equivalence in the limit as the graph becomes very large. This fact has important consequences for how realworld networks must be modelled. The talk is aimed at a general mathematical audience and requires no prior knowledge of statistical physics or random graphs.

31/10/2016 5:00 PMMathematics Lecture TheatreAndrew Thomason (Cambridge)Containers in combinatorics
A hypergraph with vertex set, say, {1,2,...,n} is a collection of subsets of the vertex set of some fixed size – these subsets are called edges. For example, the subsets might be all triples that form an arithmetic progression. An independent set in the hypergraph is a subset of the vertices that contain no edge – in the example, it would be a set of integers containing no 3term arithmetic progression. It has recently been discovered that the independent sets in any hypergraph must be structured in some way: they are all contained within one of a small collection of "independentlike" subsets. We shall discuss this discovery and its applications.

05/12/2016 5:00 PMMathematics Lecture TheatreJens Marklof (Bristol)Kinetic transport, renormalization and measure rigidity
The theory of homogeneous flows provides a powerful mathematical toolkit that has recently contributed to the solution of a number of longstanding problems. I will survey some of the recent progress, including a study of distances in multiloop networks (circulant graphs), the coin exchange problem and the derivation of a new kinetic equation which captures surprising transport phenomena in crystals and quasicrystals. This lecture is aimed at a broad audience.

16/01/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceMihalis Dafermos (Cambridge)Mathematical problems in general relativity
I'll give an overview of some of the major open problems in general relativity and the progress that mathematicians have made in recent years towards their solution.

20/03/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceVaughan Jones (UC Berkeley)Unitary representations of R. Thompson’s groups inspired by quantum spin chains.
Critical phenomena in physics are supposed to involve some kind of scale invariance. The Thompson groups are composed of local scaling transformations so one might expect them to be relevant to critical phenomena on lattices. Motivated by this thought we will construct a family of unitary representations of the Thompson groups whose coefficients are of some interest.

08/05/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceAntoine Joux (Paris 6)Technical history of discrete logarithms in small characteristic finite fields
Due to its use in cryptographic protocols such as the DiffieHellman key exchange, the discrete logarithm problem attracted a considerable amount of attention in the past 40 years. In this talk, we summarise the key technical ideas and their evolution for the case of discrete logarithms in small characteristic finite fields. This road leads from the original belief that this problem was hard enough for cryptographic purpose to the current state of the art where the algorithms are so efficient and practical that the problem can no longer be considered for cryptographic use.

02/10/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceStefaan Vaes (KU Leuven)Classification of von Neumann algebras
The theme of this talk is the dichotomy between amenability and nonamenability. Because the group of motions of the threedimensional Euclidean space is nonamenable (as a group with the discrete topology), we have the BanachTarski paradox. In dimension two, the group of motions is amenable and there is therefore no paradoxical decomposition of the disk. This dichotomy is most apparent in the theory of von Neumann algebras: the amenable ones are completely classified by the work of Connes and Haagerup, while the nonamenable ones give rise to amazing rigidity theorems, especially within Sorin Popa's deformation/rigidity theory. I will illustrate the gap between amenability and nonamenability for von Neumann algebras associated with countable groups, with locally compact groups, and with group actions on probability spaces.

06/11/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceRobert MacKay (Warwick)Three topics in electricity system management
With the move to more renewable sources of electricity, three things are becoming necessary:
 storage systems
 demand response
 monitoring and control of oscillations in power flow.
I will give an overview of some mathematical work on these. Firstly, with Lisa Flatley and Mike Waterson, we have designed an algorithm for optimal use of an energy store; this can be used to maximise profit from variations in the price or to minimise variations in the mismatch between supply and demand. Secondly, with Ellen Webborn, we have analysed the effect of making thermostatically controlled loads frequencysensitive; this can reduce variations in the mismatch between supply and demand but there are dangers that large uptake of frequencysensitive technology could lead to instabilities; in our model the uniform distribution of phases appears to be stable and the fully synchronised one is unstable. Thirdly, I am developing a Gaussian process method to detect oscillations in power flow from phasor measurement unit data, and estimate their frequency, damping rate and mode shape; it is essential to detect these modes early enough to design control for them.

20/11/2017 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceDan Romik (UC Davis)The moving sofa problem
The moving sofa problem is a wellknown open problem in geometry. It asks for the planar shape of largest area that can be moved around a rightangled corner in a twodimensional hallway of width 1. Although deceptively easy to state, it turns out to be highly nontrivial to analyze, and has a rich structure that is intriguing to amateurs and experts alike. In this talk I will survey the known results about the problem, including a new moving sofa shape with an interesting algebraic structure, and new bounds on the area of a moving sofa I derived recently in collaboration with Yoav Kallus.

12/12/2017 5:00 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's Palace (TBC) Seminar series: School ColloquiumLeonid Pastur/Леонід Пастур (Verkin Institute, Kharkov)Disordered systems and related probabilistic structures
We discuss several problems of modern physics requiring probabilistic ideas and techniques, mostly in the frameworks of spectral analysis of differential and finitedifference selfadjoint operators with random coefficients and hermitian random matrices of large size. We give an outline of certain basic results (selfaveraging, ergodic opertors, dense point spectrum, spectral rigidity and universality, etc.) and discuss their spectral, probabilistic and physical content, including results that appeared recently.

15/01/2018 4:30 PMLecture Theatre 2.10, LawsImre Leader (Cambridge)Tiling with arbitrary tiles
It is easy to tile the plane with dominoes (2x1 rectangles). It is also easy to tile the plane with trominoes (three 1x1 squares forming an Lshape). Of course, not every shape tiles the plane. What happens when we increase the number of dimensions from two to three, or beyond?

12/02/2018 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceShiri ArtsteinAvidan (Tel Aviv)Around Godbersen's conjecture for mixed volumes
We shall discuss some recent progress regarding a conjecture of Godbersen on mixed volumes, and other measures of symmetry, for which the simplex is conjectured, or proved, to be extremal.

12/03/2018 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceTim Roughgarden (Stanford)TBA

23/04/2018 4:30 PMLecture Theatre PP2, People's PalaceAndrew Granville (UCL)TBA

10/12/2018 4:30 PMTBCBernd Sturmfels (UC Berkeley and Max Plank Institute, Leipzig)TBA