Jason Schweinsberg reports:

The Seminar on Stochastic Processes (SSP) is an annual meeting that has been held in North America every Spring since 1981, when the first meeting was organized by Kai Lai Chung, Erhan Çinlar, and Ron Getoor. The 2014 SSP (http://www.math.ucsd.edu/~jschwein/ssp2014.html) was held at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) from Wednesday, March 26, through Saturday, March 29. The local organizers were Patrick Fitzsimmons, Amber Puha, Jason Schweinsberg, and Ruth Williams. There were 90 participants at the conference.

The program began on Wednesday afternoon with two 90-minute tutorial lectures by Vladas Sidoravicius (IMPA). These lectures were aimed primarily at new researchers and were organized with the help of the IMS Committee on New Researchers. Sidoravicius spoke on “Structure of near critical clusters and continuity of the phase transition for Bernoulli percolation and Ising models in dimensions 2 and 3.” A walk to the ocean cliffs allowed participants to continue the discussion after the lectures.

The rest of the program featured five invited speakers. On Thursday morning, Neil O’Connell (University of Warwick/Trinity College Dublin) spoke about “Geometric RSK, Whittaker functions and random polymers”. On Friday morning, Ramon van Handel (Princeton University) spoke on “Conditional Ergodicity”. Later that morning, Rodrigo Bañuelos (Purdue University) delivered the Kai Lai Chung lecture on “Martingale transforms, the heart of the matter.” The Kai Lai Chung lecture was created in 2011 to honor Kai Lai Chung’s memory. Bañuelos’s talk also honored the contributions of Donald Burkholder, who died in 2013. On Saturday morning, Sebastien Roch (University of Wisconsin) spoke about “Maximum likelihood in phylogenetics: Relating combinatorial and variational distances on trees”, and Sandra Cerrai (University of Maryland) concluded the conference with a talk on “Large deviations and exit problems for the 2D Navier-Stokes equations driven by space-time white noise.”

One of the aims of the SSP has been to give new researchers an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community by giving short presentations on their work. This year, a new format was used for these presentations. The participants were invited to give five-minute talks during the day on Thursday. The talks served as advertisements for posters which were presented at a combined poster session and reception later that day. The poster session gave conference participants an opportunity to ask questions of the poster presenters and engage in further mathematical discussion. Feedback from participants indicated that the new format was well received. The poster session was followed by a conference banquet on Thursday evening. At the banquet, Chris Burdzy, the moderator of the SSP Scientific Committee, made a few remarks in memory of Marc Yor, who died in January 2014.

On Friday afternoon, there was an open problem session, at which participants were invited to take up to 12 minutes to present an open problem at the blackboard. Also on Friday afternoon was a one-hour panel discussion, organized by the IMS Committee on New Researchers, at which four panelists (Rodrigo Bañuelos, Rene Carmona, Sandra Cerrai, and Steve Evans) gave new researchers advice on various issues that they may face as they start their careers.

The organizers thank the IMS for co-sponsoring the meeting, the IMS Committee on New Researchers for organizing several activities, and the National Science Foundation, Charles Lee Powell Foundation, and the Chung family for providing partial financial support.

Next year’s SSP is hosted by the University of Delaware, April 1–4, 2015. Local organizers are Nayantara Bhatnagar, Mokshay Madiman, Petr Plechac and Douglas Rizzolo. The invited speakers will be Michel Ledoux (Kai Lai Chung Lecturer), Maria Gordina, Haya Kaspi, Lionel Levine and Brian Rider. Details to follow.

Participants at the 2014 Seminar on Stochastic Processes. Photo: Chris Burdzy