Random Theory 2024

This year's workshop on Random Theory will be held August 13–19, 2024 in Estes Park, Colorado. Everything you need to know is below. (If you need to know something that isn't actually below, ask the organizers.)

Important: The venue is a private home and the capacity is limited to 10-15 people, so attendance is by invitation. If you'd like to come, please indicate your interest by filling out this form as soon as possible. We will begin sending out invitations on a rolling basis after April 30.

RT24: The Basics

Random Theory is a yearly meeting dedicated to the interactions between mathematics, computer science, and physics. This workshop is meant to help the participants discover new connections between fields and advance their ongoing research. We aim to foster an informal, intimate, and collaborative atmosphere. To that end, the workshop will begin with a series of contributed talks by the participants, at most two or three per day, with significant time allotted after each talk for open-ended discussion. After this first part of the workshop, the rest of the time will be focused on collaborative sessions to explore the ideas and connections that arise during the initial series of talks.

Here are some suggested styles of talk:

  • A speculative idea with technical content that one would like to pursue but won't realistically proceed without a collaborator to explore more deeply.
  • Explaining a problem that one is working on up until the point where one gets stuck. (For such a talk, the source of confusion should be comprehensible to, e.g., a talented Ph.D. student.)
  • Describing a web of connections between problems and phenomena that one would like to find a research problem in.
  • Summarizing an offshoot of one's research direction that is far outside of one's expertise but may be broadly interesting to pursue with appropriate collaborators.

The talk format is flexible, but we would like the workshop to be focused on developing new projects and collaborations. Thus, talks should not be presentations of one's completed research or of fully developed research programs of the participants. This workshop is meant to be an opportunity to try something new.

Some topics discussed in past years include:

  • Random matrices, random graphs, random dynamical systems
  • Theoretical and empirical aspects of neural networks
  • Emerging mathematical topics in quantum field theory (e.g. stochastic quantization, gauge theories in 2D and/or on the lattice, new links between discrete statistical mechanics and CFT, etc.)
  • Applied representation theory and algebraic combinatorics
  • Sampling algorithms, generative modeling, and related stochastic processes

This list is not meant to be exhaustive — we are always excited to hear about new topics, and we welcome whatever your interests are!

We do not expect that every talk will lead to an active collaboration, but we do hope that the participants seriously engage with each others' ideas during the discussion sections. For example, past iterations of this workshop have led to new results in machine learning theory [1, 2], dynamical systems [3] and sampling [4].

We believe that this workshop helps to fill a niche that is underserved by existing academic gatherings. There is a wealth of workshops focused on communication within disciplines, but there are comparatively fewer events where mathematically-minded people from adjacent disciplines can share their insights and find common intellectual interests. The development of such collaborations requires an environment with sufficient time for exploration and serendipity. We have found in past iterations of this workshop that the relatively relaxed talk schedule leads to enthusiastic and productive discussions between the participants. After Random Theory 2023, 75% of the participants coauthored papers based on new collaborations begun during the event.

Due to the size of the conference venue and the structure of the workshop, we expect around 10-15 people to be able to attend.

The workshop will also include some optional hikes in the Rocky Mountains surrounding the location. Such recreational activities will be decided according to participant demand at the time of the workshop, as there is no shortage of them in the area.

We sincerely hope that you can attend! If you are interested in attending, please indicate your interest by filling out the form here by April 30. Although we will still accept applications after April 30, we will begin to send out rolling invitations after this date. We are primarily limited by capacity and will try to invite a group of attendees with diverse but complementary research interests. We may have a limited amount of funding available to support travel to and from the workshop. If your ability to attend is contingent on the availability of funding, please indicate this on the form.


We are making an effort not to over-schedule the conference, because we want to leave a lot of time for spontaneous sessions and collaborative working. Nevertheless, there will be a number of scheduled talks. The full schedule is TBD, but in particular, during the first few days, each participant will give an hour-long talk as described above. Time permitting, after the introductory talks, participants may give more technically detailed follow-up lectures.

Location and How to Get There

RT24 will take place from August 13 to 19, 2024, at a private residence at 1501 St. Moritz Trail, Estes Park, CO 80517 (map). Attendees are encouraged to arrive by late afternoon on August 13 and depart on the morning of August 19 in order to be able to participate for the entire event. The house is in a beautiful secluded location overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. In hopes that it will encourage you to attend, here are some examples of the views you can expect from the venue:

One drawback of hosting an event in a house rather than a conference center is that the number of bedrooms is limited. The house can sleep 10 to 15 people, but most participants should expect to share a bedroom with one or more other attendees. Depending on interest, we may also book some additional accommodation a short drive from the venue to enable a few more people to attend.

Important: The venue is nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. There's no reason that the altitude should pose a danger to participants, but there is a risk of mild altitude sickness if you over-exert yourself or don't drink enough water. See What to Bring below for information on how to prepare for living at high altitude.

Attendees are responsible for getting themselves to and from the event, but we (the organizers) may be able to give you a ride from either Boulder or Denver depending on when you arrive — if you are interested in this option, talk to us about it before you book your travel! We will update this website with more detailed information to help attendees organize their transportation prior to the event. We will also create a mailing list for participants ahead of the event, which you can use to coordinate rides.

If you don't live in the area and aren't getting a ride from another participant, you can either take a shuttle or rent a car. Two shuttle companies, Estes Park Shuttle and Super Shuttle, offer round-trip shuttle services to and from the Denver airport as well as other locations in the region. If you choose to rent a car, let us know and we might be able to offer you a discount code.

Please plan to arrive at the venue no earlier than 1pm on August 13, and to depart no later than 1pm on August 19. Please also help us to clean up the house before you leave! Finally, be aware that the house has wireless internet but may or may not have good cell reception depending on your provider.

Eating and Sleeping

During the event, we will cook most of our meals together at the house. There is a kitchen in the house which we will stock with groceries. We'll ask participants to contribute a little bit of money (something like $30/person/day) toward the cost of food and other shared expenses.

We hope that most participants will stay (for free!) in the house, which can sleep 10-15 people comfortably depending on sleeping arrangements. For this reason we've set the capacity of the conference at 10-15. However, if there are more than 15 people who really want to come, we may be able to organize additional accommodation nearby, though participants staying in this accommodation may need to cover the costs (TBD, likely ~$100/person/night) from their own funding.

What to Do Now

  • Indicate your interest by filling out the form. It's okay if you don't have complete answers for all of the questions, but please keep your responses up to date to help us plan. We will begin issuing invitations on a rolling basis after April 30.
  • Once you have received an invitation and confirmed your attendance, prepare a 60-minute talk along the lines described above. If you aren't sure what to present and would like to discuss possible talk ideas, feel free to get in touch.
  • Think about and collect any resources (papers, books, software, etc.) that might be helpful for other participants to learn about and collaborate on your topics of interest.

What to Bring

In addition to your clothes, toiletries, and whatever else you usually travel with, we recommend bringing the following:

  • Whatever you need to do research: laptop, notebooks, scrap paper, key books/references, instruments/equipment, etc.
  • A water bottle. Actually, we recommend bringing two 32oz. bottles. The air will be dry, and you should drink a lot of water to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Sunscreen. The air in the mountains is thin, and you will sunburn more easily than usual.
  • Rain jackets or other rain gear. Most days will begin sunny, but there are often thunderstorms in the afternoon.
  • Warm clothes. Temperatures will often reach highs in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit during the day, but may drop to the 40s at night! Temperatures can also vary a lot with altitude when hiking.
  • Hiking boots and appropriate clothes if you want to go hiking.
  • A swimsuit for the jacuzzi.
  • Any games or supplies for other activities that you think the group might enjoy.