Sebastien Roch (University of Wisconsin)

Title: Maximum likelihood in phylogenetics: Relating combinatorial and variational distances on trees

Abstract: I will describe recent results on a deep connection between a well-studied phase transition in Markov random fields on trees and two important problems in evolutionary biology: the inference of ancestral molecular sequences and the estimation of large phylogenies using maximum likelihood. No biology background will be assumed. This is joint work with A. Sly.