# Universality for mathematical and physical systems

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All physical systems in equilibrium obey the laws of

thermodynamics. In other words, whatever the precise nature of the

interaction between the atoms and molecules at the microscopic level,

at the macroscopic level, physical systems exhibit universal behavior in

the sense that they are all governed by the same laws and formulae of

thermodynamics.

The speaker will recount some recent history of universality ideas in

physics starting with Wigner's model for the scattering of neutrons

off large nuclei and show how these ideas have led mathematicians to

investigate universal behavior for a variety of mathematical systems.

This is true not only for systems which have a physical origin, but also

for systems which arise in a purely mathematical context such as the

Riemann hypothesis, and a version of the card game solitaire called

patience sorting.