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We compute the limiting distributions of the lengths of the longest monotone subsequences of random (signed) involutions with or without conditions on the number of fixed points (and negated points) as the sizes of the involutions tend to infinity. The resulting distributions are, depending on the number of fixed points, (1) the Tracy-Widom distributions for the largest eigenvalues of random GOE, GUE, GSE matrices, (2) the normal distribution, or (3) new classes of distributions which interpolate between pairs of the Tracy-Widom distributions. We also consider the second rows of the corresponding Young diagrams. In each case the convergence of moments is also shown. The proof is based on the algebraic work of J. Baik and E. Rains in  which establishes a connection between the statistics of random involutions and a family of orthogonal polynomials, and an asymptotic analysis of the orthogonal polynomials which is obtained by extending the Riemann-Hilbert analysis for the orthogonal polynomials by P. Deift, K. Johansson, and Baik in .
If ρ : Gal(ℚac/ℚ))→GL2(ℂ) is a continuous odd irreducible representation wit nonsolvable image, then under certain local hypotheses we prove that ρ is the representation associated to a weight 1 modular form and hence that the L-function of ρ has an analytic continuation to the entire complex plane.
We prove some results of the form "r residually irreducible and residually modular implies r is modular," where r is a suitable continuous odd 2-dimensional 2-adic representation of the absolute Galois group of ℚ. These results are analogous to those obtained by A. Wiles, R. Taylor, F. Diamond, and others for p-adic representations in the case when p is odd; some extra work is required to overcome the technical difficulties present in their methods when p=2. The results are subject to the assumption that any choice of complex conjugation element acts nontrivially on the residual representation, and the results are also subject to an ordinariness hypothesis on the restriction of r to a decomposition group at 2. Our main theorem (Theorem 4) plays a major role in a programme initiated by Taylor to give a proof of Artin's conjecture on the holomorphicity of L-functions for 2-dimensional icosahedral odd representations of the absolute Galois group of ℚ some results of this programme are described in a paper that appears in this issue, jointly authored with K. Buzzard, N. Shepherd-Barron, and Taylor.
In a previous paper [EG] we described an integral structure (J, E) on the exceptional Jordan algebra of Hermitian 3×3 matrices over the Cayley octonions. Here we use modular forms and Niemeier's classification of even unimodular lattices of rank 24 to further investigate J and the integral, even lattice J0=(ZE)⊥ in J. Specifically, we study ring embeddings of totally real cubic rings A into J which send the identity of A to E, and we give a new proof of R. Borcherds's result that J0 is characterized as a Euclidean lattice by its rank, type, discriminant, and minimal norm.