Date

Time

Room

Title

Monday, August 25, 2008

4:005:00 pm

BESC 180

The Search for Randomness
I will examine some of our most primitive images of random
phenomena: flipping a coin, rolling dice and shuffling cards. In each case,
analysis shows that, while things can be made approximately random, usually
we are lazy and the results are quite nonrandom. Applications are given to
computer simulations and statistical models more generally.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

4:005:00 pm

KOBL 210

Harnessing Chance
I will argue that Monte Carlo simulations are everywhere dense in
applied mathematics. Further, designing, improving and analyzing simulation
techniques leads to fascinating mathematics, from microlocal analysis to
Hecke algebras.
Following Wednesday's lecture, there will be a reception in honor of
Professor Diaconis at the Koenig Alumni Center, 1202 University Avenue (the SE
corner of Broadway and University).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

10:0011:00 am

MATH 350

On adding a list of numbers
The process of "carries" in ordinary addition has a surprisingly
neat analysis. This has direct links to the mathematics of shuffling cards,
symmetric function theory and sections of generating functions.

Persi Diaconis

Persi Diaconis is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics
at Stanford University and was elected into the National Academy of Science
in 1995. He has done outstanding work in probability, statistics, and
combinatorics, and he is particularly known for tackling mathematical
problems involving randomness and randomization, such as coin flipping and
shuffling playing cards.
Professor Diaconis received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1979, and again in
1992 after the publication (with D. Bayer) of a paper entitled "Trailing
the Dovetail Shuffle to Its Lair", a term coined by magician Charles Jordan
in the early 1900s. This established rigorous results on how many times a
deck of 52 playing cards must be riffle shuffled before it can be considered
"random enough". He established that the deck gradually increases in
randomness until seven shuffles, after which the thusfar experienced
increase in randomness stops significantly increasing. At least seven
shuffles, for reasons made precise in the paper, is what casinos should use.
Among the highlights of his research is his work on the speed of
convergence of Markov chains to equilibrium, and his contributions to
Bayesian statistics. His pioneering applications of noncommutative Fourier
analysis and techniques from algebraic structures have contributed greatly
to our understanding both of random walks on finite structure models for group
valued data, and of simulations of probabilities on combinatorial structures.
As both a magician and a statistician, Professor Diaconis has debunked
much research on extra sensory perception and the paranormal, and has
exposed several psychics.

DeLong Lecture Series

This Lecture Series is funded by an endowment given by Professor Ira M.
DeLong, who came to the University of Colorado in 1888 at the age of 33.
Professor DeLong essentially became the mathematics department by teaching
not only the college subjects but also the preparatory mathematics courses.
Professor DeLong was a prominent citizen of the community of Boulder as
well as president of the Mercantile Bank and Trust Company, organizer of the
Colorado Education Association, and president of the charter convention that
gave Boulder the city manager form of government in 1917. After his death
in 1942, it was decided that the bequest he made to the mathematics
department would accumulate interest until income became available to fund
DeLong prizes for undergraduates and DeLong Lectureships to bring outstanding
mathematicians to campus each year.


