The differential equations method for random graph processes

Graph Theory Seminar
Thursday, October 23, 2008 - 12:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
In this lecture I will introduce the method and sketch some recent applications. The main idea is to exploit a natural connection between the evolution of discrete random processes and continuous functions on the real numbers. Roughly speaking, the method is as follows: Given a discrete random process, we calculate the expected change in the random variable (or variables) of interest in one step of the process, write a differential equation suggested by the expected change, and show that the evolution of the random variable over the course of the process is sharply concentrated around the trajectory given by the solution of the differential equation. This allows us to translate simple facts (often combinatorial in nature) about expected changes in one step of the process into strong statements about sharp concentration of the random variable over the entire course of the process.