Top Menu

Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellows Meeting Videos Now Available

For more information about the Simons Postdoctoral Fellows Meetings, please visit the Simons Foundation webpage.


Simons Postdoctoral Fellows Meeting
Regular Session Abstracts



Nima Arkani­‐Hamed, Institute for Advanced Study
The End of Space-Time

The unification of quantum mechanics and gravity implies that the notion of space-time cannot be fundamental, but must emerge from more primitive building blocks. Recently some remarkable clues for a new way of formulating physics without space-time have emerged, in the form of amazing hidden properties of scattering amplitudes in gauge theories and gravity. These developments have combined insights from string theory, integrable systems and twistor theory, and have exposed new connections between physics and and mathematics, in algebraic geometry, combinatorics and number theory. In this talk I will discuss the current status of this subject and describe possible future directions of research.
[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.[/box]


Ingrid Daubechies, Duke University
Sparsity in Signal Analysis and in Computation

In a wide range of applications, we seek to capture efficiently the most salient characteristics of a signal or phenomenon. In other words, we seek a presentation of a family of functions or objects that manages to be both accurate (with respect to the particular aspects in which we are interested) and succinct — that is, a *sparse* representation. Such sparse representations have many advantages for analysis, storage or computation. In some cases, we have sufficient insight in the mathematical properties of what we are studying to “guess” ways of obtaining sparse representations — with hindsight; the use of wavelets for images can be viewed as a particular instance. In other cases, we try to use mathematical tools to guide us to the construction of such a sparse representation; very exciting current developments in this direction bring differential geometry and topology to bear on applications in ways that would probably have surprised mathematicians of past generations.
[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.[/box]


Éva Tardos, Cornell University
The Price of Anarchy

Interaction of users with different incentives is a key feature of many domains ranging from communication networks through social networks and markets. In light of such competing forces, it is surprising how well some of these mechanisms work. In this talk we consider a range of games modeling such interactions, and consider the degradation of quality of solution caused by the selfish behaviors of users.
[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.[/box]


Peter Galison, Harvard University
Hybrid Disciplines and the Future of Science

[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.[/box]

John Milnor, Institute for Mathematical Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook
Small Divisors (Adventures through the Looking Glass)

The first half of this talk will be a historical survey of the “small divisor problem”, particularly in holomorphic dynamics. The second half, based on work with Araceli Bonifant and Xavier Buff, will describe an illustrative family of examples.
[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.
Download the PDF.[/box] 

Avi Wigderson, Institute for Advanced Study

Is the universe inherently deterministic or probabilistic? Perhaps more importantly – can we tell the difference between the two?

Humanity has pondered the meaning and utility of randomness for millennia. There is a remarkable variety of ways in which we utilize perfect coin tosses to our advantage: in statistics, cryptography, game theory, algorithms and gambling. Indeed, randomness seems indispensable! Which of these applications survive if the universe had no randomness in it at all? Which of them survive if only poor quality randomness is available, e.g. that arises from “unpredictable” phenomena like the weather or the stock market?

A computational theory of randomness, developed in the past three decades, reveals (perhaps counter-intuitively) that very little is lost in such deterministic or weakly random worlds. In the talk I’ll explain the main ideas and results of this theory.

The talk is aimed at a general science audience, and no particular background will be assumed.
[box, type=”download”]Watch the video.[/box]