I’m giving some talks at Oxford:
Nature and the world of human technology are full of networks. People like to draw diagrams of networks: flow charts, electrical circuit diagrams, signal-flow graphs, Bayesian networks, Feynman diagrams and the like. Mathematically minded people know that in principle these diagrams fit into a common framework: category theory. But we are still far from a unified theory of networks. After an overview, we will look at three portions of the jigsaw puzzle in three separate talks:
I. Electrical circuits and signal-flow graphs.
II. Stochastic Petri nets, chemical reaction networks and Feynman diagrams.
III. Bayesian networks, information and entropy.
If you’re nearby I hope you can come! All these talks will take place in Lecture Theatre B in the Computer Science Department—see the map below. Here are the times:
• Tuesday 4 March, 3:30 pm: Network Theory II: stochastic Petri nets, chemical reaction networks and Feynman diagrams. See the slides.
• Tuesday 11 March, 3:30 pm: Network Theory III: Bayesian networks, information and entropy. See the slides.
The first talk will be part of the OASIS series, meaning the “Oxford Advanced Seminar on Informatic Structures”.
I thank Samson Abramsky, Bob Coecke and Jamie Vicary of the Computer Science Department for inviting me, and Ulrike Tillmann and Minhyong Kim of the Mathematical Institute for helping me get set up. I also thank all the people who helped do the work I’ll be talking about, most notably Jacob Biamonte, Jason Erbele, Brendan Fong, Tobias Fritz, Tom Leinster, Tu Pham, and Franciscus Rebro.
Ulrike Tillmann has also kindly invited me to give a topology seminar:
Operads and the Tree of Life
Trees are not just combinatorial structures: they are also biological structures, both in the obvious way but also in the study of evolution. Starting from DNA samples from living species, biologists use increasingly sophisticated mathematical techniques to reconstruct the most likely “phylogenetic tree” describing how these species evolved from earlier ones. In their work on this subject, they have encountered an interesting example of an operad, which is obtained by applying a variant of the Boardmann–Vogt “W construction” to the operad for commutative monoids. The operations in this operad are labelled trees of a certain sort, and it plays a universal role in the study of stochastic processes that involve branching. It also shows up in tropical algebra. This talk is based on work in progress with Nina Otter.
I’m not sure exactly where this will take place, but surely somewhere in the Mathematical Institute building:
• Monday 24 February, 3:30 pm, Operads and the Tree of Life. See the slides.
The Computer Science Department is shown in the map here:
The Mathematical Institute is a bit to the west: