Fleming Lecture Series

Professor S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan

4:00 PM, March 27-28, 2014
Pearce Hall 128

The third Fleming Lecture will take place from March 27-28, 2014 with lectures given by Sathamangalam Ranga Iyengar Srinivasa Varadhan, the recipient of the Abel Prize in 2007 by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Varadhan will give the following talks:

March 27, 2014: Lecture 1 - Rare Events and Small Probabilities

We all believe that if the probability of an event is very small then we can (safely?) ignore it. But how small is small? And why do we have to worry about events with very small probabilities? How reliably can we estimate them?

March 28, 2014 - Lecture 2: Scaling Limits

Many physical systems are modeled at the smallest, or micro, level. But observations are made at a much larger, or macro, level. How do we make the transition, especially when the system is large and to exactly solve the evolution equations of the large system? This is an impossible task that Varadhan will illustrate by a few examples.

An informal reception will follow each lecture in Pearce Hall 135.

The Abel Prize is an international prize presented by the King of Norway to one or more outstanding mathematicians, and dedicated to the memory of the famous Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829). Often described as the "mathematician's Nobel Prize," it's among the most prestigious awards in mathematics and comes with a monetary award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (approximately $1 million U.S. dollars), to be used to fund future research.

Varadhan is currently the Frank Jay Gould Professor of Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. He is known for his work in probability theory, stochastic processes and partial differential equations. He is particularly cited for creating a unified theory of large deviations. 

He earned a bachelor's degree in statistics in 1959 and a master's degree in 1960, both from Presidency College, Madras. He worked at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), initially in the area of statistical quality control but soon became interested in problems dealing with the more mathematical aspects of probability theory. Varadhan was awarded a doctorate degree from the ISI in 1963 and his dissertation was on "Convolution properties of distributions on topological groups" under statistician C.R. Rao. 

Varadhan's awards and honors include The Birkhoff Prize (1994), The Margaret and Herman Sokol Award of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from New York University (1995), The AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research (1996), The Abel Prize (2007), The Padma Bhushan from the Government of India (2008), and The National Medal of Science (2010).

2013: Sir Timothy Gowers

Sir Timothy Gowers delivered two lectures as Timothy Gowerspart of the second Fleming Lecture series that was held from April 2-3, 2013. His lectures focused on the topics of "Will computers ever be able to have interesting mathematical ideas?" and "Combinatorial theorems in sparse random sets."

Gowers is a Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge University, where he also holds the Rouse Ball chair, and is a Fellow of Trinity College. He works in combinatorics, combinatorial number theory and in the theory of Banach spaces, and has made fundamental contributions to these fields.

In 1996 he received the Prize of the European Mathematical Society and in 1998 the Fields Medal for his research connecting the fields of functional analysis and combinatorics.

CMU Professor Emeritus Richard Fleming founded The Fleming Lecture Series upon his retirement in 2007. The object of the series is to bring speakers to CMU to present lectures on topics of general interest in mathematics or lectures of special interest to mathematics students and faculty.

Video Recap

Missed Gowers' visit? Watch his lectures:

2012: Terence Tao

Terence Tao, professor of mathematics at UCLA and winner of the Crafoord Prize in 2012 and Fields Medal in 2006, gave the inaugural Fleming Lecture at CMU on April 18 and 19, 2012.

The Fields Medal is one of the most prestigious awards in Mathematics; it is often called the “Nobel Prize in Mathematics.” The International Mathematical Union awards two to four Fields Medals during their quadrennial meetings. Tao is one of only 48 mathematicians to win the award since 1950.
His colleague John Garnett has said Tao “is a Mozart of Mathematics—mathematics just flows out of him, except without Mozart’s personality problems; everyone likes him.”
Tao has made fundamental contributions in partial differential equations, operator theory, harmonic analysis, arithmetic combinatorics and number theory. Working with Ben Green, he proved that the sequence of primes contains arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions. He is also well known for his work on the “Kayeka conjecture,” a set of five perplexing problems in harmonic analysis.
Video Recap
Missed Tao's visit? Watch the lecture here:

For further information about Tao’s research and preprints of his papers, please click here to visit his website.

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