Semester 1: School Colloquiums

Title: Calculating optimal limits for transacting credit card customers
15:10 Fri 2 Mar, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Prof Peter Taylor :: University of Melbourne
Abstract: Credit card users can roughly be divided into `transactors’, who pay off their balance each month, and `revolvers’, who maintain an outstanding balance, on which they pay substantial interest. In this talk, we focus on modelling the behaviour of an individual transactor customer. Our motivation is to calculate an optimal credit limit from the bank’s point of view. This requires an expression for the expected outstanding balance at the end of a payment period. We establish a connection with the classical newsvendor model. Furthermore, we derive the Laplace transform of the outstanding balance, assuming that purchases are made according to a marked point process and that there is a simplified balance control policy which prevents all purchases in the rest of the payment period when the credit limit is exceeded. We then use the newsvendor model and our modified model to calculate bounds on the optimal credit limit for the more realistic balance control policy that accepts all purchases that do not exceed the limit. We illustrate our analysis using a compound Poisson process example and show that the optimal limit scales with the distribution of the purchasing process, while the probability of exceeding the optimal limit remains constant. Finally, we apply our model to some real credit card purchase data.

Title: Models, machine learning, and robotics: understanding biological networks
15:10 Fri 16 Mar, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Prof Steve Oliver :: University of Cambridge
Abstract: The availability of complete genome sequences has enabled the construction of computer models of metabolic networks that may be used to predict the impact of genetic mutations on growth and survival. Both logical and constraint-based models of the metabolic network of the model eukaryote, the ale yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have been available for some time and are continually being improved by the research community. While such models are very successful at predicting the impact of deleting single genes, the prediction of the impact of higher order genetic interactions is a greater challenge. Initial studies of limited gene sets provided encouraging results. However, the availability of comprehensive experimental data for the interactions between genes involved in metabolism demonstrated that, while the models were able to predict the general properties of the genetic interaction network, their ability to predict interactions between specific pairs of metabolic genes was poor. I will examine the reasons for this poor performance and demonstrate ways of improving the accuracy of the models by exploiting the techniques of machine learning and robotics. The utility of these metabolic models rests on the firm foundations of genome sequencing data. However, there are two major problems with these kinds of network models – there is no dynamics, and they do not deal with the uncertain and incomplete nature of much biological data. To deal with these problems, we have developed the Flexible Nets (FNs) modelling formalism. FNs were inspired by Petri Nets and can deal with missing or uncertain data, incorporate both dynamics and regulation, and also have the potential for model predictive control of biotechnological processes.

Title Complexity of 3-Manifolds
15:10 Fri 23 Mar, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: A/Prof Stephan Tlllmann :: University of Sydney
Abstract:In this talk, I will give a general introduction to complexity of 3-manifolds and explain the connections between combinatorics, algebra, geometry, and topology that arise in its study. The complexity of a 3-manifold is the minimum number of tetrahedra in a triangulation of the manifold. It was defined and first studied by Matveev in 1990. The complexity is generally difficult to compute, and various upper and lower bounds have been derived during the last decades using fundamental group, homology or hyperbolic volume. Effective bounds have only been found in joint work with Jaco, Rubinstein and, more recently, Spreer. Our bounds not only allowed us to determine the first infinite classes of minimal triangulations of closed 3-manifolds, but they also lead to a structure theory of minimal triangulations of 3-manifolds.

Title Knot homologies
15:10 Fri 4 May, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Dr Anthony Licata :: Australian National University
Abstract: The last twenty years have seen a lot of interaction between low-dimensional topology and representation theory.  One facet of this interaction concerns “knot homologies,” which are homological invariants of knots; the most famous of these, Khovanov homology, comes from the higher representation theory of sl_2.  The goal of this talk will be to give a gentle introduction to this subject to non-experts by telling you a bit about Khovanov homology.

Title Stability Through a Geometric Lens
15:10 Fri 18 May, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Dr Robby Marangell :: University of Sydney
Abstract: Focussing on the example of the Fisher/KPP equation, I will show how geometric information can be used to establish (in)stability results in some partial differential equations (PDEs). Viewing standing and travelling waves as fixed points of a flow in an infinite dimensional system, leads to a reduction of the linearised stability problem to a boundary value problem in a linear non-autonomous ordinary differential equation (ODE). Next, by exploiting the linearity of the system, one can use geometric ideas to reveal additional structure underlying the determination of stability. I will show how the Riccati equation can be used to produce a reasonably computable detector of eigenvalues and how such a detector is related to another, well-known eigenvalue detector, the Evans function. If there is time, I will try to expand on how to generalise these ideas to systems of PDEs.

Title Modelling phagocytosis
15:10 Fri 25 May, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Dr Ngamta (Natalie) Thamwattana :: University of Wollongong
Abstract: Phagocytosis refers to a process in which one cell type fully encloses and consumes unwanted cells, debris or particulate matter. It plays an important role in immune systems through the destruction of pathogens and the inhibiting of cancerous cells. In this study, we combine models on cell-cell adhesion and on predator-prey modelling to generate a new model for phagocytosis that is capable of relating the interaction between cells in both space and time. Numerical results are presented, demonstrating the behaviours of cells during the process of phagocytosis.

Title Quantifying language change
15:10 Fri 1 Jun, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: A/Prof Eduardo Altmann :: University of Sydney
Abstract: Mathematical methods to study natural language are increasingly important because of the ubiquity of textual data in the Internet. In this talk I will discuss mathematical models and statistical methods to quantify the variability of language, with focus on two problems: (i) How the vocabulary of languages changed over the last centuries? (ii) How the language of scientific disciplines relate to each other and evolved in the last decades? One of the main challenges of these analyses stem from universal properties of word frequencies, which show high temporal variability and are fat-tailed distributed. The later feature dramatically affects the statistical properties of entropy-based estimators, which motivates us to compare vocabularies using a generalized Jenson-Shannon divergence (obtained from entropies of order alpha).


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