Summer School on Algebra, Statistics and Combinatorics

The summer school was funded by the AScI thematic research programme "Challenges in Large Geometric Structures and Big Data".

The Summer School on Algebra, Statistics and Combinatorics took place at Aalto University from June 27 to July 2, 2016. It was divided into two parts: mini courses and plenary lectures. The mini courses were “Algebraic graph limits” by Patrik Norén (North Carolina State University), “Combinatorics and algebra of low-rank matrix completion” by Louis Theran (St Andrews), “Semialgebraic statistics and latent tree models”  by Piotr Zwiernik (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and “Geometry of the nonnegative and positive semidefinite rank” by Kaie Kubjas (Aalto University). Each mini course consisted of three lectures and two problem sessions.  The plenary lecturers were Petter Brändén (KTH), Alexander Engström (Aalto University), Pauliina Ilmonen (Aalto University), Steffen Lauritzen (University of Copenhagen) and Bernd Sturmfels (UC Berkeley).

One of the highlights of the summer school was the Fitness Session by Bernd Sturmfels that took place Saturday morning. On Thursday, Prof. Sturmfels distributed a problem set consisting of 20 problems ranging from graphical models to irreducible representations of symmetric groups. On Friday, each problem was assigned two persons who had exactly five minutes to present a solution to their problem. After five minutes an alarm went off and the blackboard was wiped. The aim of the fitness session was to have a “work-out” to become fit in mathematics similarly as people train to be fit in sports. From Thursday afternoon everyone was working on the problems even during dinner and late night hours.

The social event with barbecue and sauna took place at Pihlajasaari. We were lucky to have wonderful weather and everyone seemed to have lots of fun.


The summer school had 65 registered participants from Alaska to Indonesia. It was organized by Ragnar Freij-Hollanti (postdoc at ELEC/COMNET), Kaie Kubjas (Aalto Science Fellow), Louis Theran (former Aalto Science Fellow, now Lecturer at St Andrews) and Emanuele Ventura (PhD student in Mathematics). The summer school was funded by Aalto Science Institute Thematic Programme “Challenges in Large Geometric Structures and Big Data”.

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