Lectures on the Probabilistic Method

In first semester 2013 I will give some lectures on the Probabilistic Method of Paul Erdős.

Time and place

The lectures will (usually) be held on Thursdays, from 3pm to 4pm, in Lecture Theatre V101 at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan campus (coordinates D4 on the campus map), starting on Thursday 7 March.

I will be away on 30 May so there will be a guest lecture on that day.


I hope to give an introduction to the probabilistic method, covering some (by no means all) of the book by Alon and Spencer, and concluding with the proof of some recent results (with Judy-anne Osborn and Warren Smith) on maximal determinants of {+1, -1} matrices.

Since I am by no means an expert in the probabilistic method, audience participation is welcomed, even necessary. I hope we can learn something about the probabilistic method and its applications by trying to understand Alon and Spencer, and perhaps some of the original papers.

Main Reference

Other References

Excerpts from Alon and Spencer

For copyright reasons I can't make the whole book by Alon and Spencer available online (and anyway, you should get a copy yourself, either by borrowing it from the library or buying a copy). However, to get you started I have scanned a relatively small number of pages, as follows:

Errata for Alon and Spencer (third edition)

Following are some minor things that I've noticed in the third edition (2008): Return to Richard Brent's index page