Physicists used andom-matrix theory—a mathematical method for finding otherwise hidden correlations within groups of data—in the 1990s and early 2000s to predict stock market volatility. Arup Chakraborty, a chemistry and chemical engineering professor at MIT, is a researcher at the Ragon Institute in Massachusetts. Ragon and a scientific collegue used random-matrix theory to analyze enzymes, and develop new ways to treat HIV.
Previously, researchers' largest foe in HIV research was the virus's mutability. But Chakraborty found that some groups of HIV amino acids rarely make mutations, and that targeting those groups could trap the virus. Chakraborty speaks with us about this, and how random-matrix theory factored in to his research.