This volume contains the proceedings (in a generalized sense) of the AMS
Summer Research Conference on "The Mathematics of Phase Transitions" held at
Bowdoin College June 24-30,
The papers appearing here are based on talks
which were (or should have been) given at that meeting and to quote the
instructions given to the authors, they are intended to 'be a friendly
introduction to the subject under consideration which makes the main results
and open problems accessible to nonexperts." A look at the table of contents
should reveal that the twenty some odd papers cover a number of different
aspects of "Particle Systems, Random Media, and Large Deviations", three topics
which I consider to be among the most exciting areas in probability theory
today. I hope that the reader will find the papers as pleasant and enjoyable
as I found the conference to be, and I especially hope that some of you will
become interested in these topics and solve some of the many open problems
described below. Finally, I would like to thank the people who made all this
possible: the National Science Foundation for its financial support, the
American Mathematical Society for allowing me to organize the conference and
publish the proceedings, and above all Carole Kohanski for the superb job she
did from beginning to end keeping things organized and running smoothly.
Rick Durrett
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