Hugh C. Morris Lecture: George Papanicolaou (Stanford)

  • Date: 11/07/2011


 George Papanicolaou (Stanford University)


University of British Columbia



Uncertainty quantification and systemic risk




3pm, MATX 1100. Prelecture reception at 2pm, MATH126. All welcome.


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.


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This is the inaugural lecture in the Hugh C. Morris Lecture Series. See the media release



This talk has been rescheduled from March 11, 2011.


This lecture series was made possible by an endowment from Dr Hugh Morris, former Board Chair and longtime friend of the mathematical sciences.