#TCOP (The Cause Of Probability, December 20, 2015):

Are you here by chance? Does probability exist? Can we decide if the world is deterministic? Is probability an outcome of our ignorance, & are we ‘forced’ to model using probabilities? Is there a trade-off between hardness and randomness? How did statistical modeling & probabilistic reasoning help establish irrefutably that smoking causes cancer? Why is Law of Large Numbers true? What does sampling mean in a world with Big Data? Is Brownian motion invariance principles manifesting themselves in a different space? Is probability theory merely a mathematical model which fits the world ‘very often’? In what sense is quantum mechanical uncertainty different? Can probability help gather knowledge about the world without intervention? Can randomness be generated? Is the best estimate of tomorrow’s (Markovian) weather today’s weather? Is the (need for the) probability of missing the train going to be different in the future? Is DNA sequence random? Would understanding biological systems using probability be a key endeavour for the future? Is it also important to regain a sophisticated understanding of probability besides just calculating? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from computer science (Prof. Jaikumar Radhakrishnan, TIFR, Mumbai), mathematics (Prof. Rahul Roy, ISI, New Delhi), & philosophy (Dr. Federica Russo, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Listen in….

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TCOP show.

Prof. Jaikumar Radhakrishnan (computer science, discrete mathematics) is a Professor at the School of Technology and Computer Science, TIFR, Mumbai. He received a B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kharagpur (1985), and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University, USA (1991). His research interests are in areas of computational complexity theory, combinatorics, randomness, pseudorandomness, information theory, quantum computation, and quantum information science. He is particularly interested in the interplay of combinatorial, probabilistic, and information theoretic ideas across the sciences. In particular, he has applied these ideas to show lower bounds in various models of computation. Prof. Radhakrishnan is the recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science & Technology in the area of Mathematical Sciences for the year 2008, and also a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA). He has held visiting positions at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (1992-93), Hebrew University (1996-97), and the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (2004-06). He also worked at CMC, Kolkata, for a year (1985-86) developing software.

Prof. Rahul Roy (probability theory, mathematics) is a Professor in the Statistics and Mathematics Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), New Delhi. He completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University, Ithaca, and his first job was at Duke University, Durham. He returned to India in 1989 and has been at the ISI since. His research interests are in the fields of probability and stochastic processes, and also history of mathematics. In particular, he works on random graphs, percolation theory, particle systems, and random matrices. Some of his research papers have centered around areas such as ‘random oriented trees as models of drainage networks’, ‘Boolean models’, and ‘coverage of space by random sets’. He has also written a book titled ‘Continuum Percolation’ (Cambridge University Press, 1999) along with his co-author Ronald Meester, and has also edited another book, ‘Percolation Theory and Particle Systems’ (University Press, Bangalore, 2000). He is a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS) and also the National Academy of Sciences of India (NASI). He was a member of the organising committee of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), 2010.

Dr. Federica Russo (philosophy, social sciences) is an Assistant Professor at Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She completed her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. Her research interests are primarily in the field of Philosophy of Science (especially social, biomedical, and policy sciences). She also works at the intersection of philosophy of technology, philosophy of information, epistemology, logic (including modal logic), philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and philosophy of AI. She has held multiple visiting and honorary positions, including Visiting Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (2009), and Visiting Scholar at Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS), London School of Economics (2004–2005). Amongst her many publications are 2 monographs, 7 edited volumes, 15 sole-authored articles, 24 co-authored articles, 2 Encyclopedia entries, 7 Technical reports and 9 Book reviews. Dr. Russo has also given invited talks in leading universities in, among others, UK, Belgium, Italy, France, Finland, USA, Brazil, & Mexico.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TCOP mentionsLaplace, Poincaré, William Feller, Mahalanobis, Francis Galton, & Andrey Markov, among others.