Sunday, May 19, 2013

1305.3621 (Jonathan J. Heckman)

Statistical Inference and String Theory    [PDF]

Jonathan J. Heckman
In this note we expose some surprising connections between string theory and statistical inference. We consider a large collective of agents sweeping out a family of nearby statistical models for an M-dimensional manifold of statistical fitting parameters. When the agents making nearby inferences align along a d-dimensional grid, we find that the pooled probability that the collective reaches a correct inference is the partition function of a non-linear sigma model in d dimensions. Stability under perturbations to the original inference scheme requires the agents of the collective to distribute along two dimensions. Conformal invariance of the sigma model corresponds to the condition of a stable inference scheme, directly leading to the Einstein field equations for classical gravity. By summing over all possible arrangements of the agents in the collective, we reach a string theory. We also use this perspective to quantify how much an observer can hope to learn about the internal geometry of a superstring compactification. Finally, we present some brief speculative remarks on applications to the AdS/CFT correspondence and Lorentzian signature spacetimes.
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