Sidney Redner on Statistics and Everyday Life

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By Santa Fe Institute and Michael Garfield. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Complexity is all around us: in the paths we walk through pathless woods, the strategies we use to park our cars, the dynamics of an elevator as it cycles up and down a building. Zoom out far enough and the phenomena of everyday existence start revealing hidden links, suggesting underlying universal patterns. At great theoretic heights, it all yields to statistical analysis: winning streaks and traffic jams, card games and elevators. Boiling down complicated real-world situations into elegant toy models, physicists derive mathematical descriptions that transcend mundane particulars — helping us see daily life with fresh new eyes.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode, we speak to SFI Resident Professor Sidney Redner, author of A Guide to First-Passage Processes, about how he finds inspiration for his complex systems research in the everyday — and how he uses math and physics to explore hot hands, heat waves, parking lots, and more…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

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Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

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Key Links:

Sidney Redner’s SFI Webpage
Redner’s textbook, A Guide to First-Passage Processes

Papers Discussed:

Kinetics of clustering in traffic flows
Winning quick and dirty: the greedy random walk
When will an elevator arrive?
Role of global warming on the statistics of record-breaking temperatures
Understanding baseball team standings and streaks
Random Walk Picture of Basketball Scoring
Safe leads and lead changes in competitive team sports
Simple parking strategies
A Fresh Look at the “Hot Hand” Paradox
Citation Statistics from 110 Years of Physical Review

Explainer Animations:

Simple Parking Strategies: A Primer
"Sleeping Beauties" of Science: Unseen ≠ Unimportant
When Will An Elevator Arrive?

69 episodes