Archive for Martin Hairer

Martin Hairer gets Breakthrough Prize (and $3M)

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2020 by xi'an

Just heard the news that Fields Medallist Martin Hairer (formerly U of Warwick) got the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics for his unification theory of stochastic partial differential equations, which he likens to a form of Taylor expansion in the massive Inventiones paper describing this breakthrough. (Looking at the previous winners of the prize, who also made its selection committee, this represents a break from focussing primarily on algebraic geometry! If not from sticking to male recipients…)

We introduce a new notion of “regularity structure” that provides an algebraic framework allowing to describe functions and/or distributions via a kind of “jet” or local Taylor expansion around each point. The main novel idea is to replace the classical polynomial model which is suitable for describing smooth functions by arbitrary models that are purpose-built for the problem at hand. In particular, this allows to describe the local behaviour not only of functions but also of large classes of distributions. We then build a calculus allowing to perform the various operations (multiplication, composition with smooth functions, integration against singular kernels) necessary to formulate fixed point equations for a very large class of semi-linear PDEs driven by some very singular (typically random) input. This allows, for the first time, to give a mathematically rigorous meaning to many interesting stochastic PDEs arising in physics. The theory comes with convergence results that allow to interpret the solutions obtained in this way as limits of classical solutions to regularised problems, possibly modified by the addition of diverging counterterms. These counterterms arise naturally through the action of a “renormalisation group” which is defined canonically in terms of the regularity structure associated to the given class of PDEs. Our theory also allows to easily recover many existing results on singular stochastic PDEs (KPZ equation, stochastic quantisation equations, Burgers-type equations) and to understand them as particular instances of a unified framework. One surprising insight is that in all of these instances local solutions are actually “smooth” in the sense that they can be approximated locally to arbitrarily high degree as linear combinations of a fixed family of random functions/distributions that play the role of “polynomials” in the theory. As an example of a novel application, we solve the long-standing problem of building a natural Markov process that is symmetric with respect to the (finite volume) measure describing the \Phi^4_ 3 Euclidean quantum field theory. It is natural to conjecture that the Markov process built in this way describes the Glauber dynamic of 3-dimensional ferromagnets near their critical temperature.

science tidbits

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2018 by xi'an

Several interesting entries in Le Monde Science & Médecine of this week (24 Jan 2018):

  1. This incredible report in the Journal of Ethnobiology of fire-spreading raptors, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, and Brown Falcon, who carry burning material to start fires further away and thus expose rodents and insects. This behaviour was already reported in some Aboriginal myths, as now backed up by independent observations.
  2. A report by Etienne Ghys of the opening of a new CNRS unit in mathematics in… London! The Abraham de Moivre Laboratory is one of the 36 mixed units located outside France to facilitate exchanges and collaborations. In the current case, in collaboration with Imperial. And as a mild antidote to Brexit and its consequences on exchanges between the UK and the EU. (When discussing Martin Hairer’s conference, Etienne forgot to mention his previous affiliation with Warwick.)
  3. A good-will-bad-stats article on the impact of increasing the number of urban bicycle trips to reduce the number of deaths. With the estimation that if 25% of the daily trips over 167 European (and British!) cities were done by bike, 10,000 deaths per year could be avoided! I have not read the original study, but I wonder at the true impact of this increase. If 25% of the commutes are made by bike, the remaining 75% are not and hence use polluting means of transportation. This means more citizens travelling by bike are exposed to the exhausts and fumes of cars, buses, trucks, &tc. Which should see an increase in respiratory diseases, including deaths, rather than a decrease. Unless this measure is associated with banning all exhaust emissions from cities, which does not sound a very likely outcome, even in Paris.
  4. An incoming happening at Cité internationale des Arts in Paris, on Feb 2-3, entitled “we are not the number we believe we are” (in French), based on the universe(s) of Ursula Le Guin who most sadly passed away the day the journal came out.
  5. A diffusion of urban riots in the suburbs of Paris in 2005 that closely follows epidemiological models of flu epidemics, using “a single sociological variable characterizing neighbourhood deprivation”. (Estimation of the SIR model is apparently done by maximum likelihood and model comparison by AIC, given the ODE nature of the models, ABC would have been quite appropriate for a Bayesian modelling!)