Section: Scientific Foundations

Theoretical aspects: probabilistic modeling of irregularity

The modeling of essentially irregular phenomena is an important challenge, with an emphasis on understanding the sources and functions of this irregularity. Probabilistic tools are well-adapted to this task, provided one can design stochastic models for which the regularity can be measured and controlled precisely. Two points deserve special attention:

  • first, the study of regularity has to be local. Indeed, in most applications, one will want to act on a system based on local temporal or spatial information. For instance, detection of arrhythmias in ECG or of krachs in financial markets should be performed in “real time”, or, even better, ahead of time. In this sense, regularity is a local indicator of the local health of a system.

  • Second, although we have used the term “irregularity” in a generic and somewhat vague sense, it seems obvious that, in real-world phenomena, regularity comes in many colors, and a rigorous analysis should distinguish between them. As an example, at least two kinds of irregularities are present in financial logs: the local “roughness” of the records, and the local density and height of jumps. These correspond to two different concepts of regularity (in technical terms, Hölder exponents and local index of stability), and they both contribute a different manner to financial risk.

In view of the above, the Regularity team focuses on the design of methods that:

  1. define and study precisely various relevant measures of local regularity,

  2. allow to build stochastic models versatile enough to mimic the rapid variations of the different kinds of regularities observed in real phenomena,

  3. allow to estimate as precisely and rapidly as possible these regularities, so as to alert systems in charge of control.

Our aim is to address the three items above through the design of mathematical tools in the field of probability (and, to a lesser extent, statistics), and to apply these tools to uncertainty management as described in the following section. We note here that we do not intend to address the problem of controlling the phenomena based on regularity, that would naturally constitute an item 4 in the list above. Indeed, while we strongly believe that generic tools may be designed to measure and model regularity, and that these tools may be used to analyze real-world applications, in particular in the field of uncertainty management, it is clear that, when it comes to control, application-specific tools are required, that we do not wish to address.

The research topics of the Regularity team can be roughly divided into two strongly interacting axes, corresponding to two complementary ways of studying regularity:

  1. developments of tools allowing to characterize, measure and estimate various notions of local regularity, with a particular emphasis on the stochastic frame,

  2. definition and fine analysis of stochastic models for which some aspects of local regularity may be prescribed.

These two aspects are detailed in sections 3.2 and 3.3 below.