ITS @ CUNY

Calendar

Back to All Events

J Sethna: Sloppy models, differential geometry, and the space of model predictions

  • Room 5209 at The Graduate Center, CUNY 365 5th Avenue New York, NY, 10016 United States (map)

James P. Sethna, Katherine Quinn, Archishman Raju, Mark Transtrum, Ben Machta, Ricky Chachra, Ryan Gutenkunst, Joshua J. Waterfall, Fergal P. Casey, Kevin S. Brown, Christopher R. Myers
Cornell University

Models of systems biology, climate change, ecology, complex instruments, and macroeconomics have parameters that are hard or impossible to measure directly. If we fit these unknown parameters, fiddling with them until they agree with past experiments, how much can we trust their predictions? We have found that predictions can be made despite huge uncertainties in the parameters – many parameter combinations are mostly unimportant to the collective behavior. We will use ideas and methods from differential geometry and approximation theory to explain sloppiness as a ‘hyper-ribbon’ structure of the manifold of possible model predictions. We show that physics theories are also sloppy – that sloppiness may be the underlying reason why the world is comprehensible. We will present new methods for visualizing this model manifold for probabilistic systems – such as the space of possible universes as measured by the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Seminar with:

James Sethna, Cornell University
http://sethna.lassp.cornell.edu/

Later Event: September 16
Student talks @ ITS