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[theory-seminar] [Theory Seminar] [cstheory-special] Motwani Computer Science Theory Colloquium

Tim Roughgarden tim at
Mon Oct 12 09:44:45 PDT 2015

The first Rajeev Motwani Distinguished Lecture of the year will be given 
Thursday, October 15th, by Avi Wigderson from the Institute for Advanced 
Studies.  Avi is a giant of theoretical computer science, and his talk 
promises to be broadly accessible (title/abstract below); you should 
definitely attend if you can.

Motwani Distinguished Lectures are a roughly quarterly series of theory
colloquia aimed at a relatively broad audience.  See for details.

The talk is at 4:15 PM on October 15th in the Mackenzie Room (Huang
Engineering Center, Room 300,

There will be a reception with refreshments (wine, cheese, etc.) 
immediately following the talk.

Hope to see you there!


Title: Randomness

Is the universe inherently deterministic or probabilistic? Perhaps more 
importantly - can we tell the difference between the two?

Humanity has pondered the meaning and utility of randomness for millennia.
There is a remarkable variety of ways in which we utilize perfect coin 
tosses to our advantage: in statistics, cryptography, game theory, 
algorithms, gambling... Indeed, randomness seems indispensable! Which of 
these applications survive if the universe had no randomness in it at all? 
Which of them survive if only poor quality randomness is available, e.g. 
that arises from "unpredictable" phenomena like the weather or the stock 

A computational theory of randomness, developed in the past three decades, 
reveals (perhaps counter-intuitively) that very little is lost in such 
deterministic or weakly random worlds. In the talk I'll explain the main 
ideas and results of this theory.

The talk is aimed at a general scientific audience.
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