Abstract:
There is a close connection between intersections of Brownian motion paths and percolation on trees. Recently, ideas from probability on trees were an important component of the multifractal analysis of Brownian occupation measure, in joint work with A. Dembo, J. Rosen and O. Zeitouni. As a consequence, we proved two conjectures about simple random walk in two dimensions: The first, due to Erd\H{o}s and Taylor (1960), involves the number of visits to the most visited lattice site in the first $n$ steps of the walk. The second, due to Aldous (1989), concerns the number of steps it takes a simple random walk to cover all points of the $n$ by $n$ lattice torus. The goal of the lecture is to relate how methods from probability on trees can be applied to random walks and Brownian motion in Euclidean space.

Abstract:
Benjamini, Kalai and Schramm (2001) showed that weighted majority functions of $n$ independent unbiased bits are uniformly stable under noise: when each bit is flipped with probability $\epsilon$, the probability $p_\epsilon$ that the weighted majority changes is at most $C\epsilon^{1/4}$. They asked what is the best possible exponent that could replace 1/4. We prove that the answer is 1/2. The upper bound obtained for $p_\epsilon$ is within a factor of $\sqrt{\pi/2}+o(1)$ from the known lower bound when $\epsilon \to 0$ and $n\epsilon\to \infty$.

Abstract:
Consider a tree network $T$, where each edge acts as an independent copy of a given channel $M$, and information is propagated from the root. For which $T$ and $M$ does the configuration obtained at level $n$ of $T$ typically contain significant information on the root variable? This problem arose independently in biology, information theory and statistical physics. For all $b$, we construct a channel for which the variable at the root of the $b$-ary tree is independent of the configuration at level 2 of that tree, yet for sufficiently large $B>b$, the mutual information between the configuration at level $n$ of the $B$-ary tree and the root variable is bounded away from zero. This is related to certain secret-sharing protocols. We improve the upper bounds on information flow for asymmetric binary channels (which correspond to the Ising model with an external field) and for symmetric $q$-ary channels (which correspond to Potts models). Let $\lam_2(M)$ denote the second largest eigenvalue of $M$, in absolute value. A CLT of Kesten and Stigum~(1966) implies that if $b |\lam_2(M)|^2 >1$, then the {\em census} of the variables at any level of the $b$-ary tree, contains significant information on the root variable. We establish a converse: if $b |\lam_2(M)|^2 < 1$, then the census of the variables at level $n$ of the $b$-ary tree is asymptotically independent of the root variable. This contrasts with examples where $b |\lam_2(M)|^2 <1$, yet the {\em configuration} at level $n$ is not asymptotically independent of the root variable.

Abstract:
We present a class of graphs where simple random walk is recurrent, yet two independent walkers meet only finitely many times almost surely. In particular, the comb lattice, obtained from Z^2 by removing all horizontal edges off the X-axis, has this property. We also conjecture that the same property holds for some other graphs, including the incipient infinite cluster for critical percolation in Z^2.

Abstract:
In a recent paper, Pertti Mattila asked which gauge functions $\phi$ have the property that for any planar Borel set $A$ with positive Hausdorff measure in gauge $\phi$, the projection of $A$ to almost every line has positive length. We show that integrability near zero of $\phi(r)/(r^2)$, which is known to be sufficient for this property, is also necessary if $\phi$ is regularly varying. Our proof is based on a random construction adapted to the gauge function.

Abstract:
Suppose that we are given a function f : (0,1) -> (0,1) and, for some unknown p in (0,1), a sequence of independent tosses of a p-coin (i.e., a coin with probability p of ``heads''). For which functions f is it possible to simulate an f(p)-coin?; This question was raised by S. Asmussen and J. Propp. A simple simulation scheme for the constant function 1/2 was described by von Neumann (1951); this scheme can be easily implemented using a finite automaton. We prove that in general, an f(p)-coin can be simulated by a finite automaton for all p in (0,1), if and only if f is a rational function over Q. We also show that if an f(p)-coin can be simulated by a pushdown automaton, then f is an algebraic function over Q; however, pushdown automata can simulate f(p)-coins for certain non-rational functions such as the square root of p. These results complement the work of Keane and O'Brien (1994), who determined the functions $f$ for which an f(p)-coin can be simulated when there are no computational restrictions on the simulation scheme.

Abstract:
Let ${n_k}$ be an increasing lacunary sequence, i.e., $n_{k+1}/n_k>1+r$ for some $r>0$. In 1987, P. Erdos asked for the chromatic number of a graph $G$ on the integers, where two integers $a,b$ are connected by an edge iff their difference $|a-b|$ is in the sequence ${n_k}$. Y. Katznelson found a connection to a Diophantine approximation problem (also due to Erdos): the existence of $x$ in $(0,1)$ such that all the multiples $n_j x$ are at least distance $\delta(x)>0$ from the set of integers. Katznelson bounded the chromatic number of $G$ by $Cr^{-2}|\log r|$. We apply the Lov\'asz local lemma to establish that $\delta(x)>cr|\log r|^{-1}$ for some $x$, which implies that the chromatic number of $G$ is at most $Cr^{-1} |\log r|$. This is sharp up to the logarithmic factor.

Abstract:
For a finitely generated group G and a banach space X let \alpha^*_X(G) (respectively \alpha^#_X(G)) be the supremum over all \alpha\ge 0 such that there exists a Lipschitz mapping (respectively an equivariant mapping) f:G\to X and c>0 such that for all x,y\in G we have \|f(x)-f(y)\|\ge c\cdot d_G(x,y)^\alpha. In particular, the Hilbert compression exponent (respectively the equivariant Hilbert compression exponent) of G is \alpha^*(G)=\alpha^*_{L_2}(G) (respectively \alpha^#(G)= \alpha_{L_2}^#(G)). We show that if X has modulus of smoothness of power type p, then \alpha^#_X(G)\le \frac{1}{p\beta^*(G)}. Here \beta^*(G) is the largest \beta\ge 0 for which there exists a set of generators S of G and c>0 such that for all t\in \N we have \E\big[d_G(W_t,e)\big]\ge ct^\beta, where \{W_t\}_{t=0}^\infty is the canonical simple random walk on the Cayley graph of G determined by S, starting at the identity element. This result is sharp when X=L_p, generalizes a theorem of Guentner and Kaminker and answers a question posed by Tessera. We also show that if \alpha^*(G)\ge 1/2 then \alpha^*(G\bwr \Z)\ge \frac{2\alpha^*(G)}{2\alpha^*(G)+1}. This improves the previous bound due to Stalder and ValetteWe deduce that if we write \Z_{(1)}= \Z and \Z_{(k+1)}\coloneqq \Z_{(k)}\bwr \Z then \alpha^*(\Z_{(k)})=\frac{1}{2-2^{1-k}}, and use this result to answer a question posed by Tessera in on the relation between the Hilbert compression exponent and the isoperimetric profile of the balls in G. We also show that the cyclic lamplighter groups C_2\bwr C_n embed into L_1 with uniformly bounded distortion, answering a question posed by Lee, Naor and Peres. Finally, we use these results to show that edge Markov type need not imply Enflo type.

Abstract:
We describe the component sizes in critical independent p-bond percolation on a random d-regular graph on n vertices, where d \geq 3 is fixed and n grows. We prove mean-field behavior around the critical probability p_c=1/(d-1). In particular, we show that there is a scaling window of width n^{-1/3} around p_c in which the sizes of the largest components are roughly n^{2/3} and we describe their limiting joint distribution. We also show that for the subcritical regime, i.e. p = (1-eps(n))p_c where eps(n)=o(1) but \eps(n)n^{1/3} tends to infinity, the sizes of the largest components are concentrated around an explicit function of n and eps(n) which is of order o(n^{2/3}). In the supercritical regime, i.e. p = (1+\eps(n))p_c where eps(n)=o(1) but eps(n)n^{1/3} tends to infinity, the size of the largest component is concentrated around the value (2d/(d-2))\eps(n)n and a duality principle holds: other component sizes are distributed as in the subcritical regime.

Abstract:
Let $C_a$ be the central Cantor set obtained by removing a central interval of length $1-2a$ from the unit interval, and continuing this process inductively on each of the remaining two intervals. We prove that if $\log b/\log a$ is irrational, then \[ \dim(C_a+C_b) = \min(\dim(C_a) + \dim(C_b),1), \] where $\dim$ is Hausdorff dimension. More generally, given two self-similar sets $K,K'$ in $\RR$ and a scaling parameter $s>0$, if the dimension of the arithmetic sum $K+sK'$ is strictly smaller than $\dim(K)+\dim(K') \le 1$ (``geometric resonance''), then there exists $r<1$ such that all contraction ratios of the similitudes defining $K$ and $K'$ are powers of $r$ (``algebraic resonance''). Our method also yields a new result on the projections of planar self-similar sets generated by an iterated function system that includes a scaled irrational rotation.