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Series: Job Candidate Talk

We construct our understanding of the world solely from neuronal activity generated in our brains. How do we do this? Many studies have investigated how the electrical activity of neurons (action potentials) is related to outside stimuli, and maps of these relationships -- often called receptive fields -- are routinely computed from data collected in neuroscience experiments. Yet how the brain can understand the meaning of this activity, without the dictionary provided by these maps, remains a mystery. I will present some recent results on this question in the context of hippocampal place cells -- i.e., neurons in rodent hippocampus whose activity is strongly correlated to the animal's position in space. In particular, we find that topological and geometric features of the animal's physical environment can be derived purely from the activity of hippocampal place cells. Relating stimulus space topology and geometry to neural activity opens up new opportunities for investigating the connectivity of recurrent networks in the brain. I will conclude by discussing some current projects along these lines.

Series: Graph Theory Seminar

Each graph can be embedded in 3-space. The problem becomes more interesting if we put restrictions on the type of embedding. For example, a linkless embedding of a graph is one where each pair of vertex-disjoint circuits has linking number equal to zero. The class of all graphs that have a linkless embedding is closed under taking minors. Robertson, Seymour, and Thomas gave the forbidden minors for this class of graphs. Open remained how to find a linkless embedding in polynomial time. In the talk we start with discussing an algorithm to find a linkless embedding.Instead of embedding the graph in 3-space, we could also consider mapping properties of certain superstructures of the graph in 3-space, and, indeed, if this superstructure has not the right mapping properties in 3-space, see whether it has the right one in 4-space, etc. Recently, we introduced for a graph G a new graph parameter \sigma(G), which is defined as the smallest d such that superstructures of G have a zero intersection mapping in d-space. The nicest property of this graph parameter is its independence of the superstructure and thus depends on the graph only. For d=2 and d=3, \sigma(G) \leq d if and only if G is outerplanar and planar, respectively. The graphs G with \sigma(G)\leq 4 are exactly those that have a linkless embedding. In the second part of the talk we will discuss this new graph parameter. (This part is joint work with R. Pendavingh.)

Series: School of Mathematics Colloquium

Issai Schur (1918) considered a class of polynomials with integer coefficients and simple zeros in the closed unit disk. He studied the limit behavior of the arithmetic means s_n for zeros of such polynomials as the degree n tends to infinity. Under the assumption that the leading coefficients are bounded, Schur proved that \limsup_{n\to\infty} |s_n| \le 1-\sqrt{e}/2. We show that \lim_{n\to\infty} s_n = 0 as a consequence of the asymptotic equidistribution of zeros near the unit circle. Furthermore, we estimate the rate of convergence of s_n to 0. These results follow from our generalization of the Erdos-Turan theorem on discrepancy in angular equidistribution of zeros. We give a range of applications to polynomials with integer coefficients. In particular, we show that integer polynomials have some unexpected restrictions of growth on the unit disk. Schur also studied problems on means of algebraic numbers on the real line. When all conjugate algebraic numbers are positive, the problem of finding \liminf_{n\to\infty} s_n was developed further by Siegel and many others. We provide a solution of this problem for algebraic numbers equidistributed in subsets of the real line.

Series: Research Horizons Seminar

The Apery sequence is a sequence of natural numbers 1,5,73,1445,...which is used to prove the irrationality of zeta(3). Can you compute its asymptotic expansion to all orders of 1/n? The talk will not assume a lot, but promises to compute, and also justify.

Series: Math Physics Seminar

We present an overview of mathematical results on the low temperature properties of dilute quantum gases, which have been obtained in the past few years. The discussion includes, for instance, results on the free energy in the thermodynamic limit, and on Bose-Einstein condensation, Superfluidity and quantized vortices in trapped gases. All these properties are intensely being studied in current experiments on cold atomic gases. We will give a brief description of the mathematics involved in understanding these phenomena, starting from the underlying many-body Schroedinger equation.

Monday, January 12, 2009 - 13:00 ,
Location: Skiles 255 ,
Frank Crosby ,
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City ,
Organizer: Haomin Zhou

Several imaging innovations have been designed to find hidden objects in coastal areas of entry, such as beaches and ports. Each imaging device is designed to exploit particular distinguishing characteristics. This talk with cover using a tunable multi-spectral camera for polarization based detection and object identification with a flash LIDAR camera that produces three-dimensional imagery.

Series: Job Candidate Talk

It is now increasingly common in statistical practice to encounter datasets in which the number of observations, n, is of the same order of magnitude as the number of measurements, p, we have per observation. This simple remark has important consequences for theoretical (and applied) statistics. Namely, it suggests on the theoretical front that we should study the properties of statistical procedures in an asymptotic framework where p and n both go to infinity (and p/n has for instance a finite non-zero limit). This is drastically different from the classical theory where p is held fixed when n goes to infinity. Since a number of techniques in multivariate statistics rely fundamentally on sample covariance matrices and their eigenvalues and eigenvectors, the spectral properties of large dimensional covariance matrices play a key role in such "large n, large p" analyses. In this talk, I will present a few problems I have worked on, concerning different aspects of the interaction between random matrix theory and multivariate statistics. I will discuss some fluctuation properties of the largest eigenvalue of sample covariance matrices when the population covariance is (fairly) general, talk about estimation problems for large dimensional covariance matrices and, time permitting, address some applications in a classic problem of mathematical finance. The talk will be self-contained and no prior knowledge of statistics or random matrix theory will be assumed.

Series: Job Candidate Talk

I will present properties of polynomials mappings and generalizations. I will first describe all polynomials f and g for which there is a complex number c such that the orbits {c, f(c), f(f(c)), ...} and {c, g(c), g(g(c)), ...} have infinite intersection. I will also discuss a common generalization of this result and Mordell's conjecture (Faltings' theorem). After this I will move to polynomial mappings over finite fields, with connections to curves having large automorphism groups and instances of a positive characteristic analogue of Riemann's existence theorem.

Series: Stochastics Seminar

In this approach to the Gaussian Correlation Conjecture we must check the log-concavity of the moment generating function of certain measures pulled down by a particular Gaussian density.

Series: Other Talks

The Southeast Geometry Seminar (SGS) is a semiannual series of one day events organized by Vladimir Oliker (Emory), Mohammad Ghomi and John McCuan (Georgia Tech) and Gilbert Weinstein (UAB). See http://www.math.uab.edu/sgs for details