January 24, 2017

Royal Canadian Institute Lectures
Co-sponsored by The Fields Institute,
held at Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto

November 7, 2004
Robert Almgren, University of Toronto, and Agnes Tourin, McMaster University
The Mathematics of Glider Racing

(audio and slides of this talk)

In the sport of soaring, pilots use the natural convection of the atmosphere to make unpowered flights of hundreds of kilometers. As with other outdoor sports such as sailboat racing, success depends on the participant's skill at managing the risk and uncertainty coming from lack of knowledge of the conditions to be found ahead and in the future. The mathematical technique of stochastic optimal control gives us a framework in which to describe and solve problems of this nature. We will describe the sport (with pictures), show how varying levels of knowledge about the future can be modeled, and apply the mathematical solutions to real practice.