Surprising nobody, the Clay Mathematics Institute has announced it is awarding its Millenium Prize for the Poincare Conjecture to Perelman.

Via Peter Woit.

Surprising nobody, the Clay Mathematics Institute has announced it is awarding its Millenium Prize for the Poincare Conjecture to Perelman.

Via Peter Woit.

Jean-RenÃ© Chazottes has an extensive list of links for on-line books and lecture notes, on topics in ergodic theory, information theory, stochastic processes, and statistical mechanics.

Via Cosma Shalizi.

I was curious to see the proof for this theorem, so I’ve started reading Lukac’s *Characteristic Functions*. It’s a good book, but as written expresses absolutely no interest in the subject of probability. While about a subject that is interesting because of its connection with probability — a characteristic function is the Fourier transform of a probability distribution function — the discussion is entirely in terms of characteristic functions. For example, studying the characteristic functions for infinitely divisible distributions is motivated by the question of which characteristic functions have the property that every *n*-th root is also a characteristic function.

I’m fascinated by this this central limit theorem for infinitely divisible distributions. I knew about two special cases, the usual central limit theorem, and the result that a suitable limit of Bernoulli random variables gives you the Poisson distribution, but I didn’t know that there was a general theory about the phenomenon.

As I mentioned last week, Tim Lambert has been calling out science journalists by name for flaws in their coverage. Lambert has been particularly hard on the *Sunday Times*. For his efforts, he has been attacked by name as part of a longer article on the evils of science blogs.

This article by Mainardi and Rogosin gives the early history of infinitely divisible distributions. It includes a translation of Khintchine’s proof of the LÃ©vy-Khintchine formula expressing the possible forms for the characteristic function of an infinitely divisible distribution.

Tomasso Dorigo has a new, non-technical, post explaining muon decay. Tomasso characterized his description as “although not perfectly correct in the physics, was actually not devoid of some didactic power.”

Simon Willerton has written an introduction to the Weyl tube formula.

More details can be found in this review of Alfred Gray’s book on the subject.

In ordinary calculus, you define “integral derivatives” — the first derivative, second derivative, etcetera. If you think of differentiation as an operator *D* that takes functions to functions, then the higher-order derivatives are just *D ^{i}* for natural numbers

I’ve never known if fractional derivatives were good for anything, or were just a historical curiosity. (They are a special case of singular integral operators, which are useful in PDEs.) This very brief paper discusses an application of fractional derivatives to models of particles in a liquid. This sounds like it should be related to Brownian motion, and it is, but the processes that arise are related to more general LÃ©vy processes than just Brownian motion.

I ran across this interesting post by a historian who was an undergraduate mathematics major. She found her old linear algebra notes, and was surprised to find how little of it she still understood:

Itâ€™s not just that I canâ€™t answer this question now, itâ€™s that I can barely comprehend even what it means. The terminology bounces through my brain, stirring vague imprecise echoes… Itâ€™s disconcerting enough to come across the ghost of your own self. It would be even more disconcerting to know for sure that part of your intellect is now forever closed off to you.