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Mathematics Colloquium

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Date:  Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Title:  Hunter, Cauchy Rabbit, and Optimal Kakeya Sets

Abstract:  A planar set that contains a unit segment in every direction is called a Kakeya set. These sets have been studied intensively in geometric measure theory and harmonic analysis since the work of Besicovich (1928); we find a new connection to game theory and probability. A hunter and a rabbit move on the integer points in [0,n) without seeing each other. At each step, the hunter moves to a neighboring vertex or stays in place, while the rabbit is free to jump to any node. Thus they are engaged in a zero sum game, where the payoff is the capture time. The known optimal randomized strategies for hunter and rabbit achieve expected capture time of order n log n. We show that every rabbit strategy yields a Kakeya set; the optimal rabbit strategy is based on a discretized Cauchy random walk, and it yields a Kakeya set K consisting of 4n triangles, that has minimal area among such sets (the area of K is of order 1/log(n)). Passing to the scaling limit yields a simple construction of a random Kakeya set with zero area from two Brownian motions. (Joint work with Y. Babichenko, R. Peretz, P. Sousi and P. Winkler).


Speaker:  Yuval Peres
Institution:  Microsoft Research Redmond

 

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