# Free probability

Free probability is a mathematical theory which studies non-commutative random variables. The "freeness" property is the analogue of the classical notion of independence, and it is connected with free products. This theory was initiated by Dan Voiculescu around 1986 in order to attack the free group factors isomorphism problem (which still remains open) but later connections to the random matrix theory, combinatorics, representations of symmetric groups, large deviations and other theories were established. Free probability is currently undergoing active research.

Typically the random variables lie in a unital algebra such as a C-star algebra or a von Neumann algebra. The algebra comes equipped with an expectation. Unital subalgebras A1, ..., An are then said to be free if the expectation of the product a1...an is zero whenever each aj has zero expectation, lies in an Ak and no adjacent aj's come from the same subalgebra Ak. Random variables are free if they generate free unital subalgebras.

One of the goals of free probability (still unaccomplished) was to construct new invariant of von Neumann algebras and free dimension is regarded as a reasonable candidate for such an invariant. The main tool used for the construction of free dimension is free entropy.

The free cumulant functional (introduced by Roland Speicher) plays a major role in the theory. It is related to the lattice of noncrossing partitions of the set { 1, ..., n } in the same way in which the classic cumulant functional is related to the lattice of all partitions of that set.

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