Theory and applications of probability and stochastic processes: e.g. central limit theorems, large deviations, stochastic differential equations, models from statistical mechanics, queuing theory.

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107
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10answers
12k views

Is there an introduction to probability theory from a structuralist/categorical perspective?

The title really is the question, but allow me to explain. I am a pure mathematician working outside of probability theory, but the concepts and techniques of probability theory (in the sense of ...
3
votes
0answers
242 views

Maximization of a total variation distance subject to another total variation distance in Markov chain

Suppose two dependent random variables $X$ and $V$ from finite alphabets $\mathcal{V}$ and $\mathcal{X}$ with known joint and marginal distributions are given. Let $P_{XV}$ and $P_X$ and $P_V$ are the ...
37
votes
14answers
39k views

If you break a stick at two points chosen uniformly, the probability the three resulting sticks form a triangle is 1/4. Is there a nice proof of this?

There is a standard problem in elementary probability that goes as follows. Consider a stick of length 1. Pick two points uniformly at random on the stick, and break the stick at those points. What ...
238
votes
15answers
33k views

Why do roots of polynomials tend to have absolute value close to 1?

While playing around with Mathematica I noticed that most polynomials with real coefficients seem to have most complex zeroes very near the unit circle. For instance, if we plot all the roots of a ...
33
votes
6answers
3k views

Geometric / physical / probabilistic interpretations of Riemann zeta(n>1)?

What are some physical, geometric, or probabilistic interpretations of the values of the Riemann zeta function at the positive integers greater than one? I've found some examples: 1) In MO-Q111339 ...
40
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1answer
3k views

Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

Edit (June 2015): Addressing this problem is a brief project report from the Illinois Geometry Lab (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), dated May 2015, that appears here along with a ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a simple way to compute the number of ways to write a positive integer as the sum of three squares?

It's a standard theorem that the number of ways to write a positive integer N as the sum of two squares is given by four times the difference between its number of divisors which are congruent to 1 ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Probabilities in a riddle involving axiom of choice

The question is about a modification of the following riddle (you can think about it before reading the answer if you like riddles, but that's not the point of my question): The Riddle: We assume ...
5
votes
2answers
213 views

Brownian motion and hitting a Quadrilateral

I want to compute the hitting probability of a bounded plane by a Brownian motion starting at the origin. In other words, given the coordinates of a quadrilateral A , can we compute ...
2
votes
1answer
239 views

Probability a Brownian particle with an exponentially distributed lifetime hits a sphere before vanishing

Imagine I have a point source $p_0 = (x_0,y_0,z_0)$ that releases a point-like Brownian particle with a lifetime given by an exponentially distributed rate parameter $\lambda$. When the particle's ...
59
votes
17answers
47k views

Google question: In a country in which people only want boys [closed]

Hi all! Google published recently questions that are asked to candidates on interviews. One of them caused very very hot debates in our company and we're unsure where the truth is. The question is: ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

What mathematical treatment is there on the renormalization group flow in a space of Lagrangians?

What mathematical treatment is there on the renormalization group flow in a space of Lagrangians?
23
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0answers
2k views

When should we expect Tracy-Widom?

The Tracy-Widom law describes, among other things, the fluctuations of maximal eigenvalues of many random large matrix models. Because of its universal character, it obtained his position on the ...
28
votes
2answers
1k views

The probability for a symmetric matrix to be positive definite

Let me give a reasonable model for the question in the title. In ${\rm Sym}_n({\mathbb R})$, the positive definite matrices form a convex cone $S_n^+$. The probability I have in mind is the ratio ...
41
votes
4answers
4k views

Connectivity of the Erdős–Rényi random graph

It is well-known that if $\omega=\omega(n)$ is any function such that $\omega \to \infty$ as $n \to \infty$, and if $p \ge (\log{n}+\omega) / n$ then the Erdős–Rényi random graph $G(n,p)$ is ...
34
votes
5answers
5k views

Heuristically false conjectures

I was very surprised when I first encountered the Mertens conjecture. Define $$ M(n) = \sum_{k=1}^n \mu(k) $$ The Mertens conjecture was that $|M(n)| < \sqrt{n}$ for $n>1$, in contrast to the ...
15
votes
0answers
382 views

Two conjectures about zero inner products and dissociated sets

The following problems come from something I worked on (with my coauthors) related to proving a new time lower bound for streaming problems. Having worked on these problems for some time with little ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Distribution of roots of complex polynomials

I generated random quadratic and cubic polynomials with coefficients in $\mathbb{C}$ uniformly distributed in the unit disk $|z| \le 1$. The distribution of the roots of 10000 of these polynomials are ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Not-lonely runners

The lonely runner conjecture has several formulations. They all involve a number $n$ runners running on a circular track, each with a different speeds, and the conjecture is that each runner is ...
11
votes
2answers
434 views

Error term for renewal function

Consider a sequence of independent uniform $[0,1]$ random variables, and for nonnegative real $t$, let $m(t)$ be the expected number of terms in the first partial sum that exceeds $t$. For instance ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Expected second moment for random points on a circle

Let $S$ be a circle with unit circumference. Suppose that $n$ random points are chosen independently uniformly from $S$; choosing one arbitrarily as $x_1$, label the rest $x_2, \dots, x_n$ in ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Expected halting time for “The 2^n Game” (aka 2048) — with random moves

Recently I encountered an online flash game that features an m-by-m grid and input from the directional pad (up, down, left, right). At any point in the game, the grid contains numbers ('blocks') from ...
9
votes
1answer
896 views

Has anyone seen this series?

I come across the following infinite series. $$ \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac{t^n}{n!\: n^{a}}, \quad\text{for $t>0$ and $a>0$}. $$ In particular, I am interested in the case where $a=1/4$. ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Mean minimum distance for N random points on a unit square (plane)

A previously posted question "mean minimum distance for N random points on a one-dimensional line" produced an elegant answer: for a line of length L, the expected minimum distance (between random ...
6
votes
2answers
419 views

Birkhoff Ergodic Theorem and Ergodic Decomposition Theorem for Continuous-Time Markov Processes

I have a couple of questions regarding ergodicity for Markov processes in continuous time. (In particular, the first question seems like it should be particularly basic, and yet I haven't managed to ...
5
votes
1answer
262 views

Isomorphisms between spaces of test functions and sequence spaces

I am in the process of writing some self-contained notes on probability theory in spaces of distributions, for the purposes of statistical mechanics and quantum field theory. Perhaps the simplest ...
10
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10answers
3k views

A problem of an infinite number of balls and an urn [closed]

I think that the following problem originated in a probability textbook : You have a countably infinite supply of numbered balls at your disposal. They are all labeled with the natural numbers ...
8
votes
1answer
304 views

Transitive closure of balanced mass transport in Z (move to close)

Given two atomic measures $\mu$ and $\nu$ on $\mathbb{Z}$, write $\mu \sim \nu$ iff there exist countable decompositions $\mu = \mu_1 + \mu_2 + \cdots$ and $\nu = \nu_1 + \nu_2 + \cdots$ along with ...
7
votes
1answer
200 views

The time to drift a binary string from one state to another via deterministic selection of two possible random bit mutation procedures

I have some length $L$ binary string consisting of an ordered array of bits: $(b_1, b_2, ..., b_{L})$, where all bit values $b_i$ are originally set to zero. I'd like a particular set of $n$ bits to ...
4
votes
2answers
235 views

Anticoncentration of the convolution of two characteristic functions

Edit: This is a question related to my other post, stated in a much more concrete way I think. I am interested in anything (ideas, references) related to the following problem: Suppose that $A ...
2
votes
1answer
594 views

Asymptotic behavior of max of chi-squared distribution

Suppose $X_{\max}$ is the maximum in a sequence $X_1,X_2,\ldots,X_n$ where each $X_i\sim\chi^2_k$ is an i.i.d. chi-squared random variable with $k$ degrees of freedom. Since chi squared distribution ...
1
vote
1answer
149 views

Gibbs sampler with linear constraints

My problem concerns the estimation of truncated multivariate normal distributions under constraints. Let $X_1$ and $X_2$ two random variables following normal distributions ...
6
votes
1answer
283 views

Location of maximum of Brownian motion with rough drift

I am interested in the distribution of the $\text{argmax}_{t \in [0,1]} \{B(t) + f(t)\}$, where $B$ is a Brownian motion (or Brownian bridge) and $f:[0,1] \to \mathbb{R}$ is a continuous function. ...
5
votes
1answer
566 views

Publishing an elementary proof of a less-general and less-useful version of a classic result?

Background Let $X_t$ be a stochastic process on the state space {Working, Broken}. Let $U$ be the cumulative sojourn Working during an interval $[0,\tau]$ (the process's uptime). It is well-known ...
3
votes
1answer
272 views

Quotients of standard Borel spaces

Let $X$ and $Y$ be standard Borel spaces: topological spaces homeomorphic to Borel subsets of complete metric spaces. Given a surjective Borel map $f:X\to Y$, we get an equivalence relation ...
2
votes
0answers
108 views

order of convergence of the conditional entropy (3)

I'm sorry for having open two questions which have been solved by elementary counter-examples provided by @AnthonyQuas. Actually I'm not an expert in information theory and I expected that a positive ...
0
votes
0answers
42 views

Expected length of minimum spanning trees

For a simple, finite, connected and complete graph $K_n = (V(K_n), E(K_n))$ with vertex set $V(K_n)$ and edge set $E(K_n)$, we assign a non-negative independent and identical distributed random weight ...
90
votes
25answers
26k views

What is convolution intuitively?

If random variable $X$ has a probability distribution of $f(x)$ and random variable $Y$ has a probability distribution $g(x)$ then $(f*g)(x)$, the convolution of $f$ and $g$, is the probability ...
62
votes
12answers
17k views

What are the big problems in probability theory?

Most branches of mathematics have big, sexy famous open problems. Number theory has the Riemann hypothesis and the Langlands program, among many others. Geometry had the Poincaré conjecture for a long ...
60
votes
21answers
8k views

Probabilistic Proofs of Analytic Facts

What are some interesting examples of probabilistic reasoning to establish results that would traditionally be considered analysis? What I mean by "probabilistic reasoning" is that the approach should ...
53
votes
9answers
8k views

How is it that you can guess if one of a pair of random numbers is larger with probability > 1/2?

My apologies if this is too elementary, but it's been years since I heard of this paradox and I've never heard a satisfactory explanation. I've already tried it on my fair share of math Ph.D.'s, and ...
46
votes
5answers
2k views

Random manifolds

In the world of real algebraic geometry there are natural probabilistic questions one can ask: you can make sense of a random hypersurface of degree d in some projective space and ask about its ...
23
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3answers
1k views

Some models for random graphs that I am curious about

G(n,p) We are familiar with the standard notion of random graphs where you fixed the number n of vertices and choose every edge to belong to the graph with probability 1/2 (or p) independently. This ...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

A balls-and-colours problem

A box contains n balls coloured 1 to n. Each time you pick two balls from the bin - the first ball and the second ball, both uniformly at random and you paint the second ball with the colour of the ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

the following inequality is true,but I can't prove it

The inequality is \begin{equation*} \sum_{k=1}^{2d}\left(1-\frac{1}{2d+2-k}\right)\frac{d^k}{k!}>e^d\left(1-\frac{1}{d}\right) \end{equation*} for all integer $d\geq 1$. I use computer to verify ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

An Entropy Inequality

Let $X,Y$ be probability measures on $\{1,2,\dots,n\}$, and set $K=\sum_i\sqrt{X(i)Y(i)}$ so that $Z:=\frac{1}{K}\sqrt{XY}$ is also a probability measure on $\{1,2,\dots,n\}$. How can we prove the ...
21
votes
2answers
978 views

Drawing natural numbers without replacement.

Suppose we start with an initial probability distribution on $\mathbb{N}$ that gives positive probability to each $n$. Let's call this random variable $X_1$ so we have $P(X_1=n)=p_{1,n}>0$ for all ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

A random walk with uniformly distributed steps

The following problem has bothered me for a long time. Let us imagine a point on the real axis. At the beginning, it is located at point $O$. Then it will "walk" on the real axis randomly in the ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

Measures of non-abelian-ness

Let $G$ be a finite non-abelian group of $n$ elements. I would like a measure that intuitively captures the extent to which $G$ is non-commutative. One easy measure is a count of the non-commutative ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Brownian motion and spheres

Consider a Brownian motion on $[0;1]$. A (finite) discrete approximation of this Brownian motion consists of $N$ iid Gaussian random variables $\Delta W_i$ of variance $\frac{1}{N}$: $$ ...