David Aldous's Home Page

I have retired from Berkeley, effective end-June 2018. I now live near Seattle and am an Affiliate Professor (a.k.a. unpaid academic) in the UW Mathematics Department. However, I continue with light-duty research and professional activities. In particular I have been updating and expanding my open research problems page. But I am focussing more on my ongoing "Probability and the Real World" and my "Essays and Musings" activities, below.

A long account of my professional life can be found in A Conversation with David J. Aldous by Shankar Bhamidi: Statistical Science, to appear.

Recent activities

(May 2024): posted a 3rd preprint on our sprawling "beta-splitting tree" project:
The Harmonic Descent Chain (with Svante Janson and Xiaodan Li).
Previous preprints: (April 2024): Posted two companion preprints: the first gives proofs and the second gives extensive numerics.
Markov chains and mappings of distributions on compact spaces (with Shi Feng)
Markov chains and mappings of distributions on compact spaces II: Numerics and Conjectures (with Madelyn Cruz and Shi Feng)

(March 2024): Posted a preprint The distance problem on measured metric spaces (with Guillaume Blanc and Nicolas Curien).

(March 2024): A talk to the Woodinville WA High School Math Club: On the Fermi paradox, playing with unknown probabilities, and statistics of phylogenetic trees.

(February 2024): My short account of why you should get 3 estimates for a kitchen remodel.

(January 2024): An all-too-common ridiculous assessment of election outcome.

(December 2023): A curious misapprehension: halves versus squares.

(November 2023): Long review of In a Flight of Starlings: The Wonders of Complex Systems by Giorgio Parisi.

(October 2023): A new Economist article How to predict the outcome of a coin toss reports on a more authoritative experiment providing an unambiguous answer to our 2009 post 40,000 coin tosses yield ambiguous evidence for dynamical bias.

(September 2023): Out of idle curiosity, I wonder what is the probability that I am the only person in the world who subscribes to all 3 of these periodicals?

(August 2023): I was a reviewer on the newly published National Academies Consensus Study Report Risk Analysis Methods for Nuclear War and Nuclear Terrorism. Maybe not as exciting or timely as the title suggests.

(June 2023): Having been quoted in a 2016 BBC online article You are surprisingly likely to have a living doppelganger, I have subsequently been contacted by other journalists for comments on relevant probabilities. So here are comments from the viewpoint of basic mathematical probability.

(May 2023): In a conclusion to a long sequence of papers, Soumik Pal and co-authors have a preprint The Aldous diffusion: a stationary evolution of the Brownian CRT making precise a conjectured "diffusion on continuum trees" process whose stationary distribution is the Brownian CRT.

(May 2023): Two recent preprints give results closely related to my old Open Problem What is the max-entropy win-probability martingale?. In brief, the Open Problem suggests that the presumed weak limit of a discrete model is the martingale diffusion satisfying a certain PDE. The two preprints discuss solutions of the PDE under different bundary conditions, the first paper envisaging a game ending at time 1, and the second paper envisaging a game ending before time 1.

(March 2023): I am looking for students with great coding skills to continue work on my Stellaris project.

(2022) I was involved with a National Academies workshop Anticipating Rare Events of Major Significance whose report has been published (October 2022). Not much mathematical probability but interesting to read expert opinions.

Recent reviews (non-technical books relating to probability)

Ordered by book publication date.

Long review of an excellent new textbook-survey

A shorter version has appeared on MathSciNet. This field offers substantial scope for future challenging theorem-proof mathematics research.

Comments on recent research

I like to think of my current research as opening up minor lines of enquiry outside the currently active topics within mathematical probability. Here are brief comments.

My page Essays and Musings maintains a large collection of items addressed to students and faculty in probability and statistics and the broader mathematical sciences. Some recent additions:

Regarding the relationship between judgments of a submitted paper by referees/editors and subsequent impact of the paper, measured by citations, I have added some small-scale data to my page Reviewer opinions versus subsequent citations.

July 2018 official launch! Previously haphazard material now organized and expanded.
"Probability and the Real World" project
What aspects of the real world involve chance? What does mathematical probability tell us about those aspects? What concepts from mathematical probability can be illustrated by interesting real data? This web site records my efforts to articulate some answers to such questions. It is aimed at readers who have either read some "popular science" style account of probability, or taken a college course involving probability.

Short cut to Reviews of non-technical books relating to Probability.

My Research Site
Short cut to Papers and preprints and to slides from recent talks and to open research problems.


For the record, here is a complete list of courses since 2001 (only the most recent version of each course is listed).

For many years I supervised these Undergraduate Research Projects.


Probability Approximations via the Poisson Clumping Heuristic Springer, 1989
Reversible Markov Chains and Random Walks on Graphs (with Jim Fill) Draft chapters

Professional Activities

Personal stuff
Humor, photos, outside activities, .......

Contact information

Email address: aldousdj@berkeley.edu