ANU Alum Allan Sly wins MacArthur Fellowship award

Mathematician Allan Sly - 2018 MacArthur Fellow
19 October 2018

ANU alumnus Allan Sly is one of the 25 recipients of the 2018 MacArthur Fellows Program, a grant that according to the foundation "celebrates exceptional creativity and significant accomplishment with the promise of important future advances and the potential to facilitate subsequent creative work". 

Professor Allan Sly is a mathematician and probability theorist resolving long-standing open problems in statistical physics and theoretical computer science. A former student at ANU, Professor Sly recieved a B.Sc. and M.Phil. (2006) from the Australian National University and is currently a professor at Princeton University. 

Sly’s accomplishments include important findings pertaining to the threshold for recovering clusters in the sparse stochastic block model; pathbreaking work on cutoff in Markov chains; and the discovery of a key to constructing embeddings of random sequences into random sequences.

He has also determined a proof of the satisfiability conjecture for large k, linking a fundamental problem in theoretical computer science to one in statistical physics. To solve these problems that have confounded many strong mathematicians before him, Sly develops novel tools with broad applicability. For example, he has introduced an innovative strategy called “information percolation” to analyze the cutoff phenomenon in Ising-Glauber models (the existence or not of a sharp transition within a short time window from an unmixed state to the mixed equilibrium state), new graphical methods for the proof of the satisfiability conjecture, and a new geometric approach to the slow bond problem.