PhD - How likely do extreme events occur in nature?

University of East Anglia - School of Mathematics

Start Date: October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Davide Proment

Project description:

Scientific rationale

Extreme events characterised by large gradients and short timescales are ubiquitous in nature. In ocean for example, giant waves arise in certain water conditions and scientists are interested in forecasting them to minimize their interaction with boats, offshore platforms and wind farms. These extremes, called rogue waves, also occur in optics, superfluids, and, generally, in any physical system admitting focussing nonlinear waves [1]. The aim of this project is to improve our forecast methods of extreme events in nature, using ocean waves as primary case study.

Research methodology

Depending on ocean conditions, water waves are modelled using different partial differential equations whose solutions can be usually found only numerically. However, a class of those models are said to be integrable and analytic solutions do exist. Recently the integrability condition has been suggested to play a crucial role in the rogue waves prediction [2]. The student will study the integrable nonlinear Schrödinger model and use its infinite set of conserved quantities to predict the probability of occurrence of extreme events there. This methodology will then be applied to other integrable models [3] and possibly extended to non-integrable ones [4-5].

For more information please contact Dr Davide Proment. (

Interviews will take place between 16 January and 24 February 2017.

Person specification: We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate wishing to work in this research field embracing physics and mathematics.  A background involving calculus and probability theory is essential; a good knowledge of Hamiltonian systems, nonlinear physics, and quantum mechanics is desirable. The student will take part in existing collaborations in the UK, France and Italy, with the possibility of being involved in experimental campaigns.

Funding notes: This PhD project is in a Faculty of Science competition for funded studentships.  These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,296 and £1000 per annum to support research training.  Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2016/17 the difference is £12,879 for the Schools of CHE & PHA, and £9,679 for CMP & MTH but fees are subject to an annual increase)

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