September 27, 2004

Booze, Sex, and Death (This Week at the Complex Systems Colloquium: Dying, Lost in the Crowd Blues Edition)

Attention conservation notice: This is an attempt to increase the attendance at this semester's complex systems colloquia by blogging about them in advance. Of minimal relevance if you're not in Ann Arbor or don't care about complex systems and stochastic processes.

This week, we are proud to welcome noted country-music performer statistical physicist Len Sander, for an hour of profound words on booze, sex, and death ---

Drunkard's Walks, Epidemics, and Extinction
Abstract: Many processes can be thought of as biased random walks. Two examples are the Susceptible-Infected-Susceptible epidemic model, and the Verhulst population model. We are interested in using random walk methods to find the time to extinction (of the epidemic, or the population). We find unexpected results: even for large populations, continuum methods which are very popular and widely used (the diffusion, or Fokker-Planck method) fail badly unless the system is quite near extinction. This is an example of the delicate relationship between discrete models and continuum approximations.

Thursday, September 30 at 4 pm in 335 West Hall, Central Campus. Admission is free, so be there when the doors open!

Update immediately after the colloquium: We had 61 people in a room meant for 50. I expect to see all of you there next week as well.

(Thanks to Bill Rand for this week's motto.)

Complexity; Enigmas of Chance; Physics

Posted at September 27, 2004 15:17 | permanent link

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