Fall 2012, Thursdays, Milner 216, 4:00-4:50 PM

Date: October 25

"  The Abelian Sandpile Model "
  Dr. Russ Thompson  


The Abelian Sandpile Model originated as a physics model for "self-organized criticality." In the model grains of sand dropped onto the vertices of a graph, and when too many grains accumulate at a vertex they cause an avalanche that can spread throughout the graph. This model, while being of independent interest, has connections to many other areas of mathematics. I'll discuss some of these connections such as to the Matrix-Tree theorem and the word problem for certain metabelian groups.