Avi Wigderson (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
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 is deterministic, and all events are predictable? And what if only poor-quality randomness is available, such as arises from "unpredictable" phenomena like the weather or the stock market? Can it be utilized? A computational theory of randomness, developed in the past three decades, gives surprising answers to these questions.
Theoretically Speaking is a new lecture series highlighting exciting advances in theoretical computer science for a broad general audience. Events are held at the David Brower Center in Downtown Berkeley, and are free and open to the public. No special background is assumed.
Light refreshments will be served before the lecture, at 5:30 p.m.