Abstract:
This paper deals with the construction of a correlation decay tree (hypertree) for interacting systems modeled using graphs (hypergraphs) that can be used to compute the marginal probability of any vertex of interest. Local message passing equations have been used for some time to approximate the marginal probabilities in graphs but it is known that these equations are incorrect for graphs with loops. In this paper we construct, for any finite graph and a fixed vertex, a finite tree with appropriately defined boundary conditions so that the marginal probability on the tree at the vertex matches that on the graph. For several interacting systems, we show using our approach that if there is very strong spatial mixing on an infinite regular tree, then one has strong spatial mixing for any given graph with maximum degree bounded by that of the regular tree. Thus we identify the regular tree as the worst case graph, in a weak sense, for the notion of strong spatial mixing.

Abstract:
We develop probabilistic tools for upper and lower bounding the expected time until two independent random walks on $\ZZ$ intersect each other. This leads to the first sharp analysis of a non-trivial Birthday attack, proving that Pollard's Kangaroo method solves the discrete logarithm problem $g^x=h$ on a cyclic group in expected time $(2+o(1))\sqrt{b-a}$ for an average $x\in_{uar}[a,b]$. Our methods also resolve a conjecture of Pollard's, by showing that the same bound holds when step sizes are generalized from powers of 2 to powers of any fixed $n$.

Abstract:
Upper and lower bounds are obtained for the joint entropy of a collection of random variables in terms of an arbitrary collection of subset joint entropies. These inequalities generalize Shannon's chain rule for entropy as well as inequalities of Han, Fujishige and Shearer. A duality between the upper and lower bounds for joint entropy is developed. All of these results are shown to be special cases of general, new results for submodular functions-- thus, the inequalities presented constitute a richly structured class of Shannon-type inequalities. The new inequalities are applied to obtain new results in combinatorics, such as bounds on the number of independent sets in an arbitrary graph and the number of zero-error source-channel codes, as well as new determinantal inequalities in matrix theory. A new inequality for relative entropies is also developed, along with interpretations in terms of hypothesis testing. Finally, revealing connections of the results to literature in economics, computer science, and physics are explored.

Abstract:
For given graphs $G$ and $H$, let $|Hom(G,H)|$ denote the set of graph homomorphisms from $G$ to $H$. We show that for any finite, $n$-regular, bipartite graph $G$ and any finite graph $H$ (perhaps with loops), $|Hom(G,H)|$ is maximum when $G$ is a disjoint union of $K_{n,n}$'s. This generalizes a result of J. Kahn on the number of independent sets in a regular bipartite graph. We also give the asymptotics of the logarithm of $|Hom(G,H)|$ in terms of a simply expressed parameter of $H$. We also consider weighted versions of these results which may be viewed as statements about the partition functions of certain models of physical systems with hard constraints.

Abstract:
Let $\gS=(V,E)$ be a finite, $d$-regular bipartite graph. For any $\lambda>0$ let $\pi_\lambda$ be the probability measure on the independent sets of $\gS$ in which the set $I$ is chosen with probability proportional to $\lambda^{|I|}$ ($\pi_\lambda$ is the {\em hard-core measure with activity $\lambda$ on $\gS$}). We study the Glauber dynamics, or single-site update Markov chain, whose stationary distribution is $\pi_\lambda$. We show that when $\lambda$ is large enough (as a function of $d$ and the expansion of subsets of single-parity of $V$) then the convergence to stationarity is exponentially slow in $|V(\gS)|$. In particular, if $\gS$ is the $d$-dimensional hypercube $\{0,1\}^d$ we show that for values of $\lambda$ tending to 0 as $d$ grows, the convergence to stationarity is exponentially slow in the volume of the cube. The proof combines a conductance argument with combinatorial enumeration methods.

Abstract:
We consider the Widom-Rowlinson model of two types of interacting particles on d-regular graphs. We prove a tight upper bound on the occupancy fraction: the expected fraction of vertices occupied by a particle under a random configuration from the model. The upper bound is achieved uniquely by unions of complete graphs on d+1 vertices, $K_{d+1}$'s. As a corollary we find that $K_{d+1}$ also maximizes the normalized partition function of the Widom-Rowlinson model over the class of d-regular graphs. A special case of this shows that the normalized number of homomorphisms from any d-regular graph G to the graph $H_{WR}$, a path on three vertices with a self-loop on each vertex, is maximized by $K_{d+1}$. This proves a conjecture of Galvin.

Abstract:
We settle an open problem, raised by Y. Peres and D. Revelle, concerning the $L^2$ mixing time of the random walk on the lamplighter graph. We also provide general bounds relating the entropy decay of a Markov chain to the separation distance of the chain, and show that the lamplighter graphs once again provide examples of tightness of our results.

Abstract:
A new notion of partition-determined functions is introduced, and several basic inequalities are developed for the entropy of such functions of independent random variables, as well as for cardinalities of compound sets obtained using these functions. Here a compound set means a set obtained by varying each argument of a function of several variables over a set associated with that argument, where all the sets are subsets of an appropriate algebraic structure so that the function is well defined. On the one hand, the entropy inequalities developed for partition-determined functions imply entropic analogues of general inequalities of Pl\"unnecke-Ruzsa type. On the other hand, the cardinality inequalities developed for compound sets imply several inequalities for sumsets, including for instance a generalization of inequalities proved by Gyarmati, Matolcsi and Ruzsa (2010). We also provide partial progress towards a conjecture of Ruzsa (2007) for sumsets in nonabelian groups. All proofs are elementary and rely on properly developing certain information-theoretic inequalities.

Abstract:
Given an undirected graph $G=(V,E)$, and a designated vertex $q\in V$, the notion of a $G$-parking function (with respect to $q$) was independently developed and studied by various authors, and has recently gained renewed attention. This notion generalizes the classical notion of a parking function associated with the complete graph. In this work, we study properties of {\em maximum} $G$-parking functions and provide a new bijection between them and the set of spanning trees of $G$ with no broken circuit. As a case study, we specialize some of our results to the graph corresponding to the discrete $n$-cube $Q_n$. We present the article in an expository self-contained form, since we found the combinatorial aspects of $G$-parking functions somewhat scattered in the literature, typically treated in conjunction with sandpile models and closely related chip-firing games.

Abstract:
We establish the existence of free energy limits for several combinatorial models on Erd\"{o}s-R\'{e}nyi graph $\mathbb {G}(N,\lfloor cN\rfloor)$ and random $r$-regular graph $\mathbb {G}(N,r)$. For a variety of models, including independent sets, MAX-CUT, coloring and K-SAT, we prove that the free energy both at a positive and zero temperature, appropriately rescaled, converges to a limit as the size of the underlying graph diverges to infinity. In the zero temperature case, this is interpreted as the existence of the scaling limit for the corresponding combinatorial optimization problem. For example, as a special case we prove that the size of a largest independent set in these graphs, normalized by the number of nodes converges to a limit w.h.p. This resolves an open problem which was proposed by Aldous (Some open problems) as one of his six favorite open problems. It was also mentioned as an open problem in several other places: Conjecture 2.20 in Wormald [In Surveys in Combinatorics, 1999 (Canterbury) (1999) 239-298 Cambridge Univ. Press]; Bollob\'{a}s and Riordan [Random Structures Algorithms 39 (2011) 1-38]; Janson and Thomason [Combin. Probab. Comput. 17 (2008) 259-264] and Aldous and Steele [In Probability on Discrete Structures (2004) 1-72 Springer].