Hugh C. Morris Lecture: George Papanicolaou

George Papanicolaou
Mon, Nov 7, 2011
PIMS, University of British Columbia
Hugh C. Morris Lecture
N.B. The audio introduction of this lecture has not been properly captured. The quantification of uncertainty in large-scale scientific and engineering computations is rapidly emerging as a research area that poses some very challenging fundamental problems which go well beyond sensitivity analysis and associated small fluctuation theories. We want to understand complex systems that operate in regimes where small changes in parameters can lead to very different solutions. How are these regimes characterized? Can the small probabilities of large (possibly catastrophic) changes be calculated? These questions lead us into systemic risk analysis, that is, the calculation of probabilities that a large number of components in a complex, interconnected system will fail simultaneously. I will give a brief overview of these problems and then discuss in some detail two model problems. One is a mean field model of interacting diffusion and the other a large deviation problem for conservation laws. The first is motivated by financial systems and the second by problems in combustion, but they are considerably simplified so as to carry out a mathematical analysis. The results do, however, give us insight into how to design numerical methods where detailed analysis is impossible.