Probability Reading Group, Spring 2012


Topic: Statistical mechanics on discrete graphs and its scaling limits

Time & place: TBA

Description (as of Dec 2011): This informal reading group will be in some sense a continuation and/or elaboration of the materials given in the 2011 Cornell Probability Summer School. Geoff Grimmett's lecture notes ( would be a nice starting point, supplemented by the relevant literatures, such as his books on percolation & random cluster model, as well as recent works of Kenyon, Sheffield, Smirnov, etc.

We could also concentrate on models in two dimensions, where many discrete models at criticality are believed (by physicists) and now proved (by mathematicians) to enjoy conformal invariance. These include percolation, spin models, height function associated with domino tilings, and quantum gravity models. The limiting objects often turn out to be instances of SLE, Gaussian free field, etc.

An important goal is to learn the techniques used to prove these hard and physically interesting results.

Tentatively we plan to meet once a week for 60-90 minutes. The exact scope of topics covered will be announced before the spring semester starts, and may evolve according to the interests of the participants.

Prerequisites: Not afraid of measure-theoretic probability theory (as covered in MATH 6710-6720) and complex analysis (MATH 6120). No prior experience with statistical mechanics is needed.

For more information and expression of interest please contact Joe P. Chen (

Prime surveys

Hugo Duminil-Copin and Stanislav Smirnov, Conformal invariance of lattice models. Lecture notes for the 2010 Clay Mathematical Institute Summer School.

Geoffrey Grimmett, Three theorems in discrete random geometry. To be published in Probability Surveys (2011+).

Richard Kenyon, Lectures on dimers. In Statistical Mechanics, IAS/Park City Mathematical Series 2007, eds. S. Sheffield & T. Spencer (2009).

Scott Sheffield. Gaussian free fields for mathematicians. Probability Theory & Related Fields 139, 521-541 (2007).

Stanislav Smirnov. Discrete Complex Analysis and Probability. Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), Hyderabad, India (2010).

Nike Sun, Conformally invariant scaling limits in planar critical percolation. Probability Surveys 8, 155-209 (2011).

Relevant links

MIT probability group reading seminar on 2D statistical physics (Fall 2010):

Informal seminar on SLE at UC Berkeley (year unknown):

A collection of literatures by Pierre Nolin:

Info on 2012 summer schools

June 4-29: PIMS Probability Summer School, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Deadline: Dec 30, 2011.

June 18-29: St. Petersburg Summer School in Probability & Statistical Physics, Chebyshev Laboratory, St. Petersburg, Russia. Deadline: Feb 12, 2012.

July 16-27: Cornell Probability Summer School.

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