Uniqueness methods in statistical mechanics: recent developments and algorithmic applications

Online, December 14-16, 2020

Organizers: Tyler Helmuth (Durham) and Will Perkins (UIC)


A central question in theoretical computer science concerns computational phase transitions, where the transition separates parameters for which efficient algorithms do (or do not) exist. This terminology, inspired by notions of phase transitions in statistical physics, is no coincidence: in some instances there are precise links between these two different notions of transition.

Mathematical physicists have developed several tools, including the cluster expansion, to prove the absence of a phase transition. Recently, these ideas have been used extensively for the development of algorithms, i.e., to verify the absence of a computational phase transition. Conversely, computer science techniques have lead to improvements in bounds in long-standing problems in statistical mechanics. This mini-workshop aims to bring these two communities into closer contact, to exchange ideas and problems, and to spur further progress.

The workshop will be held online via Zoom on Monday December 14 - Wednesday December 16, 2020 from 3:00pm-6:00pm UTC time (10am-1pm Eastern Time; 4pm-7pm Central European Time).


Registration is now closed; if you haven't registrered and would like to participate, please email the organizers.


The workshop will feature two introductory talks and nine research talks, with the remaining time reserved for informal discussions.

All times below are UTC time (same as London time)

Schedule with Titles and Abstracts
Monday December 14:

  • 14:55-15:00: Introductory remarks
  • 15:00-15:40: Statistical mechanics and graph generating functions David Brydges (University of British Columbia) Slides
  • 15:50-16:30: Introduction to approximate counting and sampling Eric Vigoda (Georgia Tech) Slides
  • 16:40-17:20: On the zeros and approximation of the Ising partition function Alexander Barvinok (Michigan) Slides
  • 17:30-18:30: Informal discussion at Gather.Town

Tuesday December 15:

  • 15:00-15:30: Metastability for the dilute Curie--Weiss model with Glauber dynamics Elena Pulvirenti (TU Delft) Slides
  • 15:40-16:10: Algorithmic and combinatorial applications of the cluster expansion Matthew Jenssen (Birmingham)
  • 16:20-16:50: Crystalline ordering in hard-core lattice particle systems Ian Jauslin (Princeton) Slides
  • 17:00-17:30: Fractionally Log-Concave and Sector-Stable Polynomials: Counting Planar Matchings and More Nima Anari (Stanford)
  • 17:40-18:30: Informal discussion at Gather.Town

Wednesday December 16:

  • 15:00-15:30: Revisiting Groeneveld's approach to the virial expansion Sabine Jansen (LMU Munich) Slides
  • 15:40-16:10: Analyticity for Classical Gasses via Recursion Marcus Michelen (University of Illinois Chicago) Slides
  • 16:20-16:50: Optimal Mixing of Glauber Dynamics: Entropy Factorization via High-Dimensional Expansion Zongchen Chen (Georgia Tech)
  • 17:00-17:30: Phase transitions and finitary codings Yinon Spinka (University of British Columbia) Slides
  • 17:40-18:30: Informal discussion at Gather.Town