Random matrix theory is an asymptotic spectral theory. For a given ensemble of $n$ by $n$ matrices, one aims to proves limit theorems for the eigenvalues as the dimension tends to infinity. One of the more remarkable aspects of the subject is that it has introduced important new points of concentration in the space of distributions. Take for example the Tracy-Widom laws. First discovered as the fluctuation limit for the spectral radius of certain Gaussian Hermitian matrices, these laws are now understood to govern the behavior of a wide range of nonlinear phenomena in mathematical physics (exclusion processes, random growth models, etc.)

My aim here will be to describe a relatively new approach to limit theorems for random matrices. Instead of focussing on some particular spectral statistic, one rather understands the large dimensional limit as a continuum limit, demonstrating that the matrices themselves converge to some random differential operators. This method is especially suited to the so-called beta ensembles, which generalize the classical Gaussian Unitary and Orthogonal Ensembles (GUE/GOE), and can be viewed in their own right as models of coulomb gases.

The first lecture will review the underlying analytic structure of the just mentioned classical ensembles (essential to, for example, Tracy and Widom’s original work), and then introduce the beta ensembles along with our main players: the stochastic Airy, Bessel, and Sine operators. These operators provide complete characterizations of the general edge and bulk statistics for the beta-ensembles and as such generalize all previously discovered limit theorems for say GUE/GOE. Lecture two will provide the rigorous framework for these operators, as well as an overview of the proofs of the implied operator convergence. The last lectures will be devoted to upshots and applications of these new characterizations of random matrix limits: tail estimates for general beta Tracy-Widom, a simple PDE description of ``the Baik-Ben Arous-Peche phase transition", approaches to universality, and so on.

Random matrix theory is an asymptotic spectral theory. For a given ensemble of $n$ by $n$ matrices, one aims to proves limit theorems for the eigenvalues as the dimension tends to infinity. One of the more remarkable aspects of the subject is that it has introduced important new points of concentration in the space of distributions. Take for example the Tracy-Widom laws. First discovered as the fluctuation limit for the spectral radius of ...

60H25 ; 15B52