Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) is a NSF program that facilitates collaborations among researchers from different countries. One of the awards under this program is the Virtual Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (VI-MSS). This award connects two U.S. NSF funded research institutes (SAMSI and ICERM) with several leading research institutes in India (Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)). VI-MSS provides funding to U.S. graduate students, post doctoral fellows and faculty for research visits to partner institutes in India. Another key objective of VI-MSS is to sponsor joint workshops that have the potential to lead to collaborative research between scientists in the two countries. The workshops are co-sponsored by the Indian federal research funding agency, Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Topics in Probability was one such workshop that was held at CMI on December 18-20, 2012. The workshop was co-organized by me and the director of CMI, Professor Rajeeva Karandikar. CMI, located in Siruseri at the outskirts of Chennai was founded in 1989 as part of the SPIC science foundation and is a premier research institute in Mathematical Sciences in India. The workshop brought together leading researchers in Probability Theory; from U.S. Universities (Professors Richard Bass, Sandra Cerrai, Tom Kurtz, Ramon Van Handel and Mathukumalli Vidyasagar); and from several top Indian research institutes (Professors Siva Athreya, Vivek Borkar, Arup Bose, Manjunath Krishnapur, Krishanu Maulik and Anish Sarkar). A broad range of topics were represented, including Random Matrices, Diffusion Processes, Percolation Theory, Infinite Dimensional Stochastic Analysis, Stochastic Partial Differential Equations, Random Graphs, Limit Theorems, Information Theory, Discrete Probability Models and Elliptic PDEs with applications in Probability. Approximately fifteen graduate students, both from U.S. and India, participated in the workshop. Talks were spread over three days with 3-4 talks each day giving ample opportunities for interaction and discussions. As a result of a small number of talks per day, the pace of lectures was leisurely and the environment was relaxed and informal with frequent questions and extended discussions.